LONDON 2012: Cook's Olympic dreams look to be fading fast
AARON Cook's Olympic dreams appear to be over after British Taekwondo rejected his claims on selection for the third time.
BELIEF: Aaron Cook, the world number one in taekwondo's welterweight division, claims it is 'incredible' he hasn't been selected for the London 2012 Olympics - with supporters citing his ongoing dispute with team officials as a cause (Getty Images)
The five-man panel were asked to think again by the British Olympic Association after rejecting the two-time European champion and world number one in preference to rising star Lutalo Muhammad .
But they elected to again nominate Muhammad, who also won gold at last month's European Championships but is unproven in Cook's welterweight division and will need to drop down the weights to compete.
The decision throws the emphasis back on Team GB officials, who had a legal observer present at British Taekwondo's selection meeting.
They are now in uncharted waters and it's thought increasingly unlikely they will intervene further, wary of the precedent it will set with nearly 400 athletes still to have their places on the team confirmed.
It all leaves Cook - who is not part of the British Taekwondo high performance system - looking increasingly isolated.
He has written to BOA chairman Lord Moynihan, UK Sport's Sue Nicholls and Olympic minister Hugh Robertson to state his case - but none really have the power to intervene.
Cook's camp are also fuming they were given less than 24 hours notice to attend the selection meeting and have refused to rule out further legal action.
Few emerge from this process with any credit, apart from Muhammad, who has been receiving hate mail about his selection.
And if, as is increasingly expected, his selection is rubber-stamped, few athletes on Team GB will be under more pressure to deliver this summer.
“Aaron is disappointed to hear that Lutalo Muhammad has received hate mail," said a statement on Cook's website.
"No real fan of Aaron Cook would send such mail. We have always stated that we see Lutalo’s involvement in this mess as being a direct result of the decision by the Performance Team of British Taekwondo to recommend Lutalo for selection – wrongly in our opinion.
"Like Aaron, Lutalo is also a victim. Lutalo is an athlete of immense promise for the future.
“We have only ever discussed facts. Lutalo’s record as a taekwondo athlete in the Olympic category of -80kg does not compare to Aaron’s. Lutalo has never won an international event in the Olympic weight category of -80kg.
"There was not one athlete in Lutalo’s -87kg victory at the European Championships who will be at the Olympic Games. Lutalo is not ranked in the Top 100 according to the Olympic ranking. Aaron won the European and Olympic test event in the -80kg Olympic weight category.
"Aaron has beaten seven of the top 15 of his Olympic rivals in their most recent fights and lost to one, whilst Lutalo has not beaten any of them.
"Aaron is ranked number one in the world and Olympic rankings because he is the best Taekwondo athlete at his weight class in the world. These are all facts, not opinion."
© Sportsbeat 2012