Tag Archives: taekwondo

Fran Halsall vows to bounce back in Rio – Laura Williamson

I'll make waves in Rio, vows Halsall after flopping at home Olympics

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UPDATED:

22:09 GMT, 30 December 2012

Fran Halsall has made an important New Year’s resolution. The British swimmer never again wants to feel the way she did in the summer of 2012 after finishing the Olympic Games without a medal.

She has written it all down, just in case she ever needs a reminder, because Halsall is determined she will never feel like that again; so low she did not attend the post-Games parade because she ‘didn’t think she should enjoy it’.

While 2012 was an unforgettable year of sport for so many, there are those for whom 2013 and beyond promises far better things.

Gutted: Fran Halsall struggled to perform at the London Olympics

Gutted: Fran Halsall struggled to perform at the London Olympics

More from Laura Williamson…

Laura Williamson: Farewell to Plucky Brit syndrome, and good riddance
23/12/12

Laura Williamson: Pity 2012 feelgood factor has faded so quickly
16/12/12

Laura Williamson: Wake up Gary, or Match of the Day's old boys' club may close for good
09/12/12

Laura Williamson: Booth and Co aim to end golf's old school traditions
02/12/12

Laura Williamson: I won't be fighting in Rio but you could as taekwondo seeks new stars
25/11/12

Laura Williamson: Dangerous message that strong isn't sexy for women
18/11/12

Laura Williamson: As Sportsmail enters the ring with an Olympic star, Jonas shows being a warrior woman is worth fighting for
11/11/12

Laura Williamson: Kids have no chance when vile chants are treated like nursery rhymes
06/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

A silver medal in the 50-metre freestyle at the World Short Course Championships in Istanbul earlier this month ‘was never going to make up for the Olympics’, but it has helped Halsall get her spark back. She has a new coach — James Gibson, who guided France’s Florent Manaudou to Olympic gold in the men’s 50m freestyle in London. But, most importantly of all, her confidence has returned.

‘Knowing I’m still a fast swimmer feels really good,’ she says. ‘I gave myself a little pat on the back, if you like. I’m really happy.

‘It took me a couple of months to get over the Olympics. There was a lot of upset and blame; of thinking I’m not good enough. I couldn’t deal with the fact I wasn’t good enough and it wasn’t a very nice feeling.

‘But I took ownership of it and I swam fast again. That was all me. It’s not an Olympic medal but I had to differentiate between Fran the swimmer and the person. You can’t live your life like that.’

Halsall was tipped to star in the pool at London 2012 but did not win a medal in any of her five events. She was not the only one to disappoint, of course: Britain’s swimming team came away with only a silver and two bronze medals at their home Games and have lost 4million of funding as a result.

British Swimming conducted a review into what went wrong in London, which largely blamed the leadership of coaches and the timing of the national trials, which were held 13 weeks before the Games in March.

Bouncing back: Halsall has vowed to return to form for Rio in four years

Bouncing back: Halsall has vowed to return to form for Rio in four years

Head coach Dennis Pursley and performance director Michael Scott also quit, prompting Rebecca Adlington to call the situation ‘an absolute mess’.

Halsall, though, has conducted her ‘own review’ and has a much simpler explanation: she over-trained. Working under Ben Titley, who has since moved to Canada, at Loughborough University, she says she was an ‘Olympic keeno’.

Halsall picked up a shoulder injury in mid-May, which kept her out of the pool for ‘a few weeks’.

‘Trials weren’t the problem,’ adds Halsall. ‘I have always swum faster in the summer: this was the first year I didn’t. You have to swim fast for the trials, wherever you put them.

Back on track: Halsall in Turkey

Back on track: Halsall in Turkey

‘The issue for me was I did too much. I was an Olympic keeno. I probably overdid it and ended up picking up an injury. I tried to do more than I had ever done before.

‘I didn’t want to talk about my shoulder problem (before the Games). It’s an excuse and I didn’t want that. My focus was on swimming as fast as I could and I didn’t want to have that distraction. I still fought for every 10th of a second in every race.’

Halsall, though, is already a veteran of two Olympic Games, despite being only 22 years old.

She is determined not to make the same mistakes third time around.

‘I’m not too old just yet,’ she says. ‘I’m looking forward to Rio in four years’ time.’

Fran Halsall uses Multipower Sportsfood: www.multipower.co.uk

What they said

It's little wonder David Weir described the New Year Honours list as ‘a bit strange’ after Sarah Storey became a Dame but Weir, who also won four Paralympic gold medals in London, was given a CBE.

‘Sometimes it seems that Paralympians have to win lots and lots of medals to get a damehood or a knighthood,’ Weir told the Daily Telegraph.

Here's what I've been doing this week

Chugged around the country for the feast of festive football. Clubs might whinge about fixture congestion, but I love the tradition of it all. It works in other sports, too: just look at the record 82,000 people at Twickenham for Saracens’ win against Harlequins on Saturday.

Watched Superstars and revelled in the sheer naffness and rain-sodden Britishness of it all. I can cope with only having shooter Peter Wilson on my television screen every four years, but I enjoyed Mo Farah’s attempts at kayaking, the Brownlee brothers’ rivalry and being proved wrong by Helen Glover’s prowess on the track. And there was I thinking rowers are not always the most co-ordinated of athletes on dry land.

Back on our screens: Olympians took part in the BBC show Superstars

Back on our screens: Olympians took part in the BBC show Superstars

According to Fulham’s programme for their 1-1 draw with Southampton, I ‘swooned’ when I wrote about Dimitar Berbatov’s ‘style and swagger’ in his side’s 2-1 victory against Newcastle this month. That made me laugh, but not as much as the striker’s handwritten ‘Keep Calm and Pass Me the Ball’ T-shirt, which suggested Berbatov is not averse to ‘swooning’ about himself, either.

Performance of the week

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert continues to predict that ‘Aston Villa will be fine’ despite his side suffering a 15-0 deficit over the festive period. That’s some crystal ball he got for Christmas.

Match of the Day is an old boys" club – Laura Williamson

Wake up Gary, or Match of the Day's old boys' club may close for good

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 9 December 2012

The BBC website features a page called ‘How to watch Match of the Day’. Increasingly, however, the answer is quite simple.

Record it and fast-forward past the ‘analysis’ between games or risk water intoxication (or a nasty hangover) by putting the kettle on or topping up your wine glass every time the Three Wise Men come on to your screen in their smart-casual, open-necked shirts.

On Saturday night, for example, Alan Hansen delivered the following gems during the 15 minutes we were not watching match action or plugs for Sports Personality of the Year.

Old boys club: (from left-right) Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson

Old boys club: (from left-right) Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson

More from Laura Williamson…

Laura Williamson: Booth and Co aim to end golf's old school traditions
02/12/12

Laura Williamson: I won't be fighting in Rio but you could as taekwondo seeks new stars
25/11/12

Laura Williamson: Dangerous message that strong isn't sexy for women
18/11/12

Laura Williamson: As Sportsmail enters the ring with an Olympic star, Jonas shows being a warrior woman is worth fighting for
11/11/12

Laura Williamson: Kids have no chance when vile chants are treated like nursery rhymes
06/11/12

Laura Williamson: Wit is the only way to counter football's vile chants
04/11/12

Laura Williamson: After Twenty20 World Cup we must now start taking women's cricket seriously
07/10/12

Laura Williamson: Don't use women's sport just to plug a gap, please Auntie…
23/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Sunderland ‘have got to stop leaking bad goals early’, three defeats in a row for West Brom is ‘enough’ and, my personal favourite, QPR ‘have got to get victories’. Funny that, as they are bottom of the table having just set a record for the longest winless Premier League start.

Hansen, though, delivers these insightful nuggets with the explicit authority of a father talking down to his eight-year-old son. ‘How are babies made, dad’ ‘They just are.’ End of conversation.

On the rare occasions host Gary Lineker deigns to probe his pal a little further, Hansen frowns and squirms in his seat, visibly affronted. There was a similar, almost embarrassed, reaction from Lineker after reporter Damian Johnson asked Martin O’Neill about self-doubt after Sunderland had slipped into the bottom three.

Ah, those pesky journalists asking former footballers questions. How dare they

Match of the Day too often seems like the comfy old boys’ club we should be honoured to visit for 80 minutes every Saturday night. Relaxed and matey is fine, but it is not conducive to forthright opinions or illuminating punditry.

Dan Walker, who will present next week’s show in Lineker’s absence, may help here. The programme has also tried, to its credit, to shake things up by including current players such as Vincent Kompany and Phil Neville in recent weeks.

It is a very difficult ask, however, for an active footballer to be anything other than diplomatic — particularly when three ex-pros are fawning over your every word.

The programme misses Lee Dixon, while Mark Lawrenson is infinitely better on the radio. Alan Shearer was perfectly fine on Saturday, although he got himself in a twist trying to explain how Chelsea are playing more to Fernando Torres’s strengths.

Effort: Vincent Kompany (right) appeared on the show - but there was only so much he could say

Effort: Vincent Kompany (right) appeared on the show – but there was only so much he could say

Missed: Lee Dixon (right) added something to the show when he was there

Missed: Lee Dixon (right) added something to the show when he was there

But at least Shearer had a go; at least he was enthusiastic and animated. Hansen was also right to highlight Jack Wilshere’s display for Arsenal against West Brom but he simply talked us through what happened and not how or why.

What did Arsene Wenger’s side do differently to their 2-0 defeat by Swansea City And what about Santi Cazorla’s blatant dive to win Arsenal’s first penalty

Little evolution: Lineker (centre) with Hansen and Lawrenson in 2001 and below in 2006

Little evolution: Lineker (centre) with Hansen and Lawrenson in 2001 and below in 2006

Familiar faces: Lawrenson, Lineker and Hansen

Familiar faces: Lawrenson, Lineker and Hansen

Oh, they all had a good laugh about that one, while singularly failing to discuss or expand on one of the main talking points. Are foreign players more culpable than home-grown ones How do we stamp it out Alan, did you ever dive to win a penalty

This is the main problem with the modern Match of the Day. There were highlights of six matches delivered from the shiny new set in Salford on Saturday, not one definitive game.

But then Match of the Day is not definitive any more. That happens on a Monday night on Sky with Gary Neville and his interactive white board. MotD is now occupying a beige middle ground of irrelevancy.

Is it a light entertainment show or a sports programme

It needs to make up its mind before a much-loved television institution is fast-forwarded out of existence.

Blast from the past: Lineker took over hosting duties of the show in 1999

Blast from the past: Lineker took over hosting duties of the show in 1999

What they said

Harry Redknapp teed up his first meeting with QPR chairman Tony Fernandes by announcing: ‘I’ve said it a million times that they’re nice people. I’m not saying that because I need the job. If I thought they were tossers I would say so.’

I wonder if January transfer targets will be on the agenda

Not tossers: Harry Redknapp defended his new bosses

Not tossers: Harry Redknapp defended his new bosses

…And this is what I've been doing this week

In Athens with Arsenal on Monday, Arsene Wenger was noticeably disdainful of any suggestion his club are experiencing a crisis. The admirable belief in his principles is nothing new, but the scornful tone felt different and unnecessary from a manager who has achieved as much as Wenger.

Arsenal are not a club in meltdown — they are still fighting in all competitions, after all — but they are certainly not one in ‘fantastic shape’, whatever the Frenchman may say.

Balance: Arsenal are not falling to pieces, but nor are they in fantastic shape

Balance: Arsenal are not falling to pieces, but nor are they in fantastic shape

Meeting new UK Athletics coaches Rana Reider and Terrence Mahon at Loughborough University, both of whom are American. We Brits have a tendency to self-deprecate, but the way the pair talked up our funding system, personnel and facilities suggested we are doing something right. It also means, of course, there are no excuses for athletes who fail to deliver.

Impressed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s easy, eloquent manner at the Sports Journalists’ Association British Sports Awards on Thursday. The Arsenal midfielder picked up the Best International Newcomer award and quipped: ‘Thank you, it’s nice to win something.’

Aaron Cook switches allegiance to Isle of Man

European taekwondo champion Cook to switch allegiance to Isle of Man after London 2012 snub

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UPDATED:

00:04 GMT, 7 December 2012

Aaron Cook has stated his intention to switch his allegiance to the Isle of Man after being overlooked by Great Britain for the Olympics.

The 21-year-old was world No 1 in the under-80kg category but Lutalo Mohammad was instead selected by British Taekwondo leading to a drawn-out process which was eventually ratified by the British Olympic Association.

Mohammad won the bronze medal at London 2012 in what was a successful Games for taekwondo as Jade Jones won gold in the women's 57kg category while Martin Stamper reached the semi-finals.

Jumping ship: Cook (right) was snubbed by Team GB at London 2012

Jumping ship: Cook (right) was snubbed by Team GB at London 2012

However, it was Cook who dominated the column inches in the run-up to the Games and now he has decided to compete for the Isle of Man in all events bar the Olympics.

Manx athletes compete under the GB flag at the Olympics but, according to Cook, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) may introduce a route to the Games based on rankings rather than discretionary selection which saw him miss out this year.

Cook told Sky Sports News: 'I was reigning European champion, world No 1 – I am never going to work with those people (British Taekwondo) again.

'They have made their minds up with what they have done to me and I've made my mind up.

Unforgiven: Cook is still furious at British Taekwondo

Unforgiven: Cook is still furious at British Taekwondo

'I think I am quite lucky at the moment, the WTF are looking to organise new competitions, such as a grand prix, which they have said will open up a different path to the Olympics based on world rankings so all I have got to do is go and win the World Championships, the European Championships and make sure I am top ranked in the world and I can get there off my own back which we didn't have in the past.'

Of his disappointment on having to look on rather than participate in the summer, Cook added: 'I am extremely jealous obviously, I wish that was me.

'She (Jade Jones) did fantastic and so did Lutalo and so did Martin Stamper. I just wish I could have been on that team, I felt I deserved to be on that team.

'I've got to find some peace and I've to go move forward and this Isle of Man [opportunity] has come up and I can't wait to be hopefully world champion next year.'

Carly Booth trying to end golf"s old school traditions

Booth and Co aim to end golf's old school traditions

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UPDATED:

23:56 GMT, 2 December 2012

Carly Booth is a 20-year-old Scottish golfer who is third on the European Ladies’ Tour order of merit, having earned around 130,000 in prize money and won two tournaments in 2012.

We spoke on the phone last week, as Booth was playing in the Hero Women’s Indian Open, and talk turned to the future of the women’s game.

After all, golf will be an Olympic sport — for men and women — in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, one in four regular golfers in Europe are female and prize money on the European Ladies’ Tour has risen 7,700 per cent in three decades.

Success: Carly Booth celebrates winning the Scottish Open earlier this year

Success: Carly Booth celebrates winning the Scottish Open earlier this year

More from Laura Williamson…

Laura Williamson: I won't be fighting in Rio but you could as taekwondo seeks new stars
25/11/12

Laura Williamson: Dangerous message that strong isn't sexy for women
18/11/12

Laura Williamson: As Sportsmail enters the ring with an Olympic star, Jonas shows being a warrior woman is worth fighting for
11/11/12

Laura Williamson: Kids have no chance when vile chants are treated like nursery rhymes
06/11/12

Laura Williamson: Wit is the only way to counter football's vile chants
04/11/12

Laura Williamson: After Twenty20 World Cup we must now start taking women's cricket seriously
07/10/12

Laura Williamson: Don't use women's sport just to plug a gap, please Auntie…
23/09/12

Laura Williamson: Thanks to our Ellie, 'normal' has been redefined
16/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

But, despite the guff on the R&A’s website about golf being the game of ‘honesty, integrity and courtesy’, Booth is not allowed to be a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. ‘Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden’: isn’t that how it goes Although, silly me, that’s an old wives’ tale.

The Augusta National Golf Club admitted two female members last year but Muirfield, which will host the 2013 Open, is still a male-only organisation — ‘although ladies can play as guests or visitors every day of the week’. There is also a ‘small’ ladies’ locker room. How thoughtful of them.

‘Some courses will always have that old school tradition,’ said Booth. ‘But Augusta even had two lady members, so I’m sure they will change.

‘It’s not just Muirfield. Lots of places have separate male and female clubhouses. I don’t see why. It just isn’t right.’

There are ladies-only clubs as well, of course, but they will not host one of the greatest tournaments in sport. That is why we should get our knickers in a twist over this one: not because it’s the whim of a private club or because male golfers particularly care, but because it suggests, once again, that sportswomen are second-class citizens.

It’s against this backdrop that Booth took up the game, looking up to Annika Sorenstam but immersing herself in the men’s game and playing, even as a junior, with men ‘because there weren’t any girls to play with’. Things, however, are improving all the time.

‘The ladies’ game is definitely developing,’ says Booth. ‘There are so many lady golfers now. It’s things like how we dress; trying to get out there.

‘We want as much support as we can in the future so hopefully we can have more sponsorship, tournaments and money.’

Mission: Booth hopes to help bring an end to the male dominance of golf

Mission: Booth hopes to help bring an end to the male dominance of golf

Wait a minute: ‘How we dress’ Booth
is a beautiful young woman and I understand her desire to wear what she
wants to work (Ian Poulter has made a very nice sideline out of it), but
the phrase instantly jarred. Why should that matter ‘I make an effort
to look nice,’ she replies. ‘Match your shoes with your earrings,
something like that. You dress nice, you putt nice.

‘It all helps to make it more appealing. It might help to get more younger girls involved in the game, too.’

More appealing to whom, I wonder. Sex sells, but it does not always lead to a long-term commitment. Saying female athletes must be ‘feminine’ — in the stereotypical sense of the word — is a dangerous game.

But then I cannot help but smile at the idea of a lady golfer one day strolling into the clubhouse at Muirfield head to toe in pink, a fully-fledged member of the old boys’ club. Just because she wants to — and just because she can. And that’s the ultimate aim, after all.

Sky Sports HD has live coverage of the Dubai Ladies Masters between December 6-8 as part of the year-round schedule of women’s golf.

Tweet of the week

Former Australia international David Campese on the Sydney Morning
Herald’s new female rugby writer. ‘Why does the smh get a girl to write
about rugby….now we have someone who has no idea about the game!’ he
wrote, before deleting his tweet. It just shows you the danger of making
assumptions. Anyone would think he was a bloke who always thought he
was right and did not have a clue about journalism.

Main man: Bradley Wiggins

Main man: Bradley Wiggins

This is what I've been doing this week

Watching A Year in Yellow, a documentary about Bradley Wiggins’ last 12 months. I struggled with the claims that he is a staunchly private individual (delivered, with apparently no hint of irony, while being filmed in his garden shed or at his nan’s house), but it was impossible not to warm to him. Great Britain’s head cycling coach, Shane Sutton, was the star of the show.

Listening to a podcast of London 2012: What Now a BBC Radio 5 Live show about how athletes deal with the comedown after an Olympic Games. It was fascinating. Whether athletes’ dedication to their sport produces glory or devastation, what happens next Either way, they must be impossible to live with.

Pleased to see Nicola Adams included on the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The ‘personality’ bit seems to stand for the athlete who conjured up a moment that was the most personal to you and Adams’ history-making fight was right up there for me. So were David Weir’s four Paralympic golds, which totally transformed my view on disability sport.

Performance of the week

The men’s thrilling win at Twickenham on Saturday was a wonderful warm-up but England’s women then went on to complete a 3-0 series win against New Zealand with a 32-23 victory. Stop thinking ‘but it’s only the women’ and read that again: a 3-0 series win against the world champions, New Zealand. That is phenomenal.

Olympic taekwondo stars launch talent programme

Britain's Olympic taekwondo stars launch hunt for medal winners of the future

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UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 16 November 2012

Great Britain’s taekwondo Olympic stars Jade Jones, Lutalo Muhammad and Sarah Stevenson have launched the first talent identification programme following the success of London Olympics.

In the build-up to the Rio Games in 2016 — and in conjunction with UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport — GB Taekwondo has launched Fighting Chance: Battle4Brazil, a nationwide talent identification programme.

The programme is aimed at high achieving 16 to 26-year-old male and female combat athletes from all kick-based martial arts who believe they are capable of transferring to Olympic Taekwondo (WTF style) and making an impact on the medal table in 2016.

Talent search: The road to Rio has begun for taekwondo stars

Talent search: The road to Rio has begun for taekwondo stars

The sport has enjoyed an increased profile after the Games with one gold and one bronze medal achieved, which added to the bronze won four years ago in Beijing, but GB Taekwondo and the UK Talent Team remain convinced that there are athletes not currently involved in Olympic Taekwondo (WTF) who are capable of challenging for positions in the national team.

Recent rule changes increasing points scored for kicks to the head will further enhance the opportunity for talent transfer.

GB Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall said: ‘The original Fighting Chance talent identification campaign in 2009 was very successful for athletes to complement the talented juniors we were already developing.

‘The new Fighting Chance: Battle4Brazil campaign should help us build on the successes we have had so far and reach wider audiences. The success we achieved in London was incredible but we are not resting on our laurels, there is more talent out there to discover.’

Since 2007, the UK Talent Team has worked in partnership with 20 Olympic and Paralympic sports and over 100 World Class coaches; run seven National athlete recruitment campaigns, and assessed over 7,000 athletes. These projects have resulted in over 100 athletes selected by sports into the World Class system with 293 international appearances made and a total of 102 international medals won.

Golden girl: Jade Jones celebrates her success at the London Olympics

Golden girl: Jade Jones celebrates her success at the London Olympics

Twelve identified athletes from the campaigns represented Team GB at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, including rower Helen Glover, who was part of the crew which won Team GB’s first gold medal and Taekwondo player Lutalo Muhammad, who won Olympic bronze.

Ian Yates from the UK Talent Team said, ‘The London 2012 Games saw great success for British athletes and there was notable impact on the medals won from talent ID athletes who have come through our campaigns including an Olympic gold medal for Rower Helen Glover.

‘The talent initiatives have a proven track record in discovering untapped sporting potential and we are now focussing on continuing to impact on British success through to Rio in 2016. It is fantastic that Taekwondo will be involved in our first initiative post London 2012.’

Jade Jones shot to fame this summer by winning Olympic gold in the women’s -57kg Taekwondo. Jones, who is also the current world number one, began taekwondo at a young age and now trains at the GB Taekwondo Olympic headquarters in Manchester. Jade made the switch from ITF Taekwondo five years ago.

She said: ‘I’ve had a lot of feedback since the summer’s Olympic Games that more and more people are looking to get into WTF Taekwondo,’ she said.

‘It is a fantastic sport and certainly has attributes which appeal to other combat athletes. My experience at London 2012 was incredible and I’m so happy that the sport is receiving more interest but I want to see this grow and continue in the lead up to 2016. Fighting Chance: Battle4Brazil is a great programme to help that happen.’

Action stations: Jones (right) hopes to identify talent for Rio in 2016

Action stations: Jones (right) hopes to identify talent for Rio in 2016

Lutalo Muhammad came through the Talent 2012 Fighting Chance scheme before winning bronze in this year’s Olympic Games and commented on the campaign launch: ‘It is exciting to see the increase in popularity that Taekwondo has gained since our success this summer. London was an incredible experience for me and I would encourage others who think they could transfer their skills to WTF Taekwondo to apply for Fighting Chance as they too could experience the thrill of an Olympic Games in 2016.’

Sarah Stevenson won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games and became the first ever British athlete to medal in the sport of Taekwondo at an Olympic Games.

The 29-year-old from Doncaster said: ‘The Fighting Chance: Battle4Brazil programme is a fantastic way to bring new talent to our sport. We had great success as a team in London and it would be fantastic to see that grow and develop on the road to Rio.’

The 2009 Fighting Chance campaign saw over 1,000 applicants from a variety of other combat sports, including ITF Taekwondo, kickboxing, karate, muai thai and others.

The application process is online and further information can be found at: www.uksport.gov.uk/talent, with the application process closing on Monday 14 January 2013.

Aaron Cook can never work with GB taekwondo coaches again

I can never work with GB taekwondo coaches again, says Cook as stand-off continues

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UPDATED:

15:47 GMT, 8 October 2012

European champion and world No 1 Aaron Cook feels it remains impossible for him to work with the current British Taekwondo elite coaching staff.

Cook, who left the Manchester-based GB Taekwondo Academy training programme in the run-up to the Olympics, was a controversial omission from the final squad for London 2012 with a place instead going to Lutalo Muhammad, who went on to win a bronze medal with Wales teenager Jade Jones claiming gold in her weight division.

The 21-year-old, who saw his selection appeals to the British Olympic Association end in disappointment, is determined to fulfil his own Olympic ambitions in Rio – but insists that cannot be done under the current leadership of GB Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall.

Snubbed: Cook was not selected for London 2012 despite being ranked world No 1

Snubbed: Cook was not selected for London 2012 despite being ranked world No 1

Under-80kgs fighter Cook has written to WTF president Chungwon Choue to ask for world rankings to carry more weight in national selections, and also if he would be able to compete at future events such as the World Championships independent of the British squad.

British Taekwondo, meanwhile, have always maintained they are willing to work with any fighter – from inside or outside the Academy programme – who wants to compete internationally.

However, Cook believes there is little hope for reconciliation under the current structure.

Cook said: 'I have been trying to get away from everything but, every time I wake up, it seems like a nightmare. I have got to try to find some peace and move forwards to focus on Rio.

'However, it is going to be extremely difficult for me to work with any of the people who made this decision – Gary Hall, [coach] Steve Jennings, [British Taekwondo chairman] Adrian Tranter, [coaches] Paul Green and Joseph Salim.

'I can never work with them again and it would be impossible for me to be on any team where they are involved.

High hopes: Cook was expecting to win a medal in London

High hopes: Cook was expecting to win a medal in London

'Unless they resign, someone fires them or they leave, it is going to be very hard for me to move forwards and have a future in British taekwondo.

'I have dreamt since I was a little boy of winning Olympic gold, with the British national anthem playing and the flag behind me – that is still what we are pushing for.

'We are hopeful some change can come about, but we know how hard it is going to be.'

Cook, who is currently in America recovering from ankle surgery, remains in no doubt his decision to leave the Academy was ultimately behind the squad selection – a claim GB Taekwondo have always refuted.

'When I left the Academy, we had meetings with Gary Hall asking if he could help me in any way. He basically said: 'if you are not in the Academy, then you don't get any funding and we are not going to help you,'' said Cook, who fought at the Beijing Games and suffered a controversial defeat in the bronze medal fight against China's Zhu Guo.

'Basically we knew we were on our own as soon as we left the academy.

Podium finish: Muhammad won a bronze medal

Podium finish: Muhammad won a bronze medal

'I have now my own team around me, using my own money, got myself back to world No 1, so my results speak for themselves.

'There is no way I can go back down there and have any faith in what they are doing.'

Cook maintains under the current selection system, hopes of forcing his way back on the British squad are flawed.

'If I did not get selected for our home Olympics when we did not have to qualify, I have beaten all the top players in the world, I am reigning European champion at the Olympic weight division, I should have been selected, and I wasn't,' he said.

'It was all personal, not about competition results, it was absolutely disgusting.

'If I could not get selected for that then it is going to be extremely difficult to be selected for other tournaments, especially now Lutalo has got a bronze medal.

Plenty to ponder: Cook says he has lost faith in the British coaching set-up

Plenty to ponder: Cook says he has lost faith in the British coaching set-up

'I am just hoping it all changes, not just for taekwondo but for all sports. Selection needs to be based on results and objectivity – not just the opinions of some coaches or performance director.'

Despite Cook's reservations, Hall maintains British Taekwondo are willing to renew their working relationship.

A statement from Hall read: 'I have been consistent in stating that the door is always open for Aaron as far as representing Great Britain is concerned.

'Whilst he chose to leave the World Class Performance programme, that doesn't mean he isn't eligible for the British team and I want to establish whether he wants to be part of our plans for Mexico and, in the long term, for Rio.

'Our governing body has recently approached Aaron with an opportunity to represent Great Britain in an upcoming WTF invitational event, though they have yet to receive a response.

'We will continue to try and engage with Aaron, though clearly it is up to him as to whether he wants to make himself available for Great Britain in the future.'

London 2012 Olympics: Lutalo Muhammad received death threats

Hate mail ordeal of bronze medal fighter Muhammad

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UPDATED:

22:34 GMT, 18 August 2012

Britian's Olympic taekwondo bronze medallist Lutalo Muhammad, whose build-up to the London Games was dogged by the row over his selection ahead of world No 1 Aaron Cook, has revealed that he considered giving up his 2012 dreams after becoming the target of vile abuse including racist slurs and poison pen letters.

Cook’s omission from Britain’s taekwondo team was the most rancorous Team GB selection issue before the Games, and it propelled Muhammad into a bitter controversy not of his own making. But the 21-year-old from Hackney went on to win bronze in the under-80kg division, a medal seen in some quarters as justifying his selection.

Now, Muhammad has told Inside Sport that the hate mail he received both online and through the post pushed him to the brink.

Abuse: Lutalo Muhammad was targeted after being selected

Abuse: Lutalo Muhammad was targeted after being selected

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‘I received a lot of horrible messages,’ he said. ‘I don’t know who it was sending me this abuse. A lot of it was anonymous.

‘There was stuff on Twitter. There were written notes pushed through the door of my parents’ house in Walthamstow. I have no idea how someone would find that address.

‘It was a very stressful time not only for me but for my whole family. It was really, really horrible. But maybe in a funny kind of way it strengthened my character.’

Muhammad says he considered whether he wanted to continue. ‘I did think that maybe it wasn’t worth all the abuse that I was getting,’ he said. ‘Some days I was so severely stressed. The whole thing seemed to have died down but then it would flare up again. I was getting headaches from the stress. It was a horrible ordeal.

‘I had to tell myself just to focus on the Olympics but if I’m being honest, then of course the situation affected me. There was a tremendous amount of pressure.’

It has long been suspected that Cook was snubbed for severing his ties with GB Taekwondo and effectively going it alone in his own glory bid.

Cook remains ‘extremely bitter’ about what happened to him but he and Muhammad have had no contact during the whole saga.

Pendleton’s twin tease

Victoria Pendleton caused excitement on Twitter last week when she mentioned that her twin had made her a lovely dinner to welcome her back from her successful London Olympics.

The tweet inspired hundreds of fans to become new followers of her sibling, and in turn promoted British cycling’s pin-up girl to post a little later: ‘Just to clarify @aj_pendleton is my twin brother! Sorry to disappoint some of you.’

Glamour girl: Victoria Pendleton (right) won two medals at the Olympics

Glamour girl: Victoria Pendleton (right) won two medals at the Olympics

Meanwhile, the twin brother in question, Alexis, felt compelled to tweet: ‘Feel free to stop following now you know I’m Victoria’s brother!’

One new fan asked if Alexis had lost many followers because of that, and Alexis, who describes himself as a hairy sports fan, said: ‘Still gaining. Worryingly. Eeek.’

Costs force Paralympians out

The Paralympics will seize national attention when they start a week on Wednesday but the struggles of those participating in the Games are underlined by a tiny West African nation having to pull out of an acclimatisation camp through lack of cash.

The Gambia has a population of 1.7 million with an average income of 1,200 per head a year and is one of 16 countries due to take part in the Paralympics for the first time.

Next up: The Paralympics will be the next sporting event to hit London

Next up: The Paralympics will be the next sporting event to hit London

But the president of the country’s Paralympics Association, Sulayman Colley, tells me that two wheelchair athletes, Demba Jarju and Isatou Nyang, have scrapped plans to attend a pre-Games camp because they could not raise 9,000 to use facilities at Bedfordshire University.

They will still compete on the track ‘because LOCOG have sent air tickets’ but a plan to bring a bigger delegation — four support staff — than LOCOG will house in the Paralympics village is in peril.

‘We need 6,000 that we haven’t got to meet costs,’ said Colley. ‘A country as poor as ours having competitors can change fundamentally negative attitudes towards disability.’

Premier League goes multinational

The global popularity of the Olympics is beyond doubt but the Premier League could yet set its own record for multinational appeal this season.

Strike: Newcastle's Senegalese striker Demba Ba scored against Tottenham

Strike: Newcastle's Senegalese striker Demba Ba scored against Tottenham

An Inside Sport analysis of the 20 clubs shows there are 568 players in first-team squads, from 72 different nations, as of this weekend. They hail from all continents with France (27 players) and Spain (26) contributing the most players from nations outside of Britain and Ireland.

The most nationalities used in one Premier League season by all clubs combined was 74, in 2009-10. This season could see that beaten, given 72 nations in squads already and typically five to 10 new ones arriving per season. Arsenal are the most cosmopolitan club with players from 19 nations.

London 2012 Olympics: Aaron Cook says he should have been fighting for gold

Cook: I was in pieces… It should have been me fighting for gold

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UPDATED:

21:48 GMT, 10 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

Even on the day that Sarah Stevenson failed in her attempt to honour the passing of both her parents last year by winning an Olympic medal, the world of British taekwondo was still all about the man who isn’t at the Games.

Friday should have been Aaron Cook’s day representing Great Britain as the European champion and world No 1 in the men’s -80kg category.

Instead, it was Lutalo Muhammad, the man whom GB Taekwondo chose ahead of him in a selection process that could be described as anything from murky to sinisterly unfair, who took to the mat just after 10.45am inside the ExCeL Arena.

Looking to the future: Aaron Cook still wants his shot an Olympic glory in 2016

Looking to the future: Aaron Cook still wants his shot an Olympic glory in 2016

Half an hour earlier, just before a
broken Stevenson lost to America’s Paige McPherson to stun a British
crowd which had dared to dream of a happy ending to her tale of
heartbreak, there was Cook pouring his heart out in an interview on
BBC Radio 5 Live.

When Muhammad came back for his
quarter-final in late afternoon, Cook (right) was preparing to speak to
the media again, at an informal press conference in central London.

What he knew then was that Muhammad would not win gold, having lost 7-3 to Spain’s Nicolas Garcia Hemme.

Making his case: Lutalo Muhammad made a very bright start to his own campaign in London

Making his case: Lutalo Muhammad made a very bright start to his own campaign in London

Making his case: Lutalo Muhammad made a very bright start to his own campaign in London

Making his case: Lutalo Muhammad made a very bright start to his own campaign in London

Would Cook have done better It is
impossible to know but just as impossible not to share the
21-year-old’s sense of injustice at being overlooked when he is ranked
the best fighter in the world in his weight category.

Choosing to sabotage the Olympic
moments of a lifetime for Stevenson and especially Muhammad, however,
was not the wisest of public-relations decisions and will only harden GB
Taekwondo’s stance against him.

Fall out: Cook knows he isn't on the christmas card list of those at British Taekwondo

Fall out: Cook knows he isn't on the christmas card list of those at British Taekwondo

Cook said: ‘When I watched the
Tajikistan fighter come out — that should have been my first match — I
was in pieces. I should have been fighting there. This is the biggest
competition of anyone’s life and to have it in London, it’s never going
to happen again.

‘I am 21 years old, I’m world No 1, I have beaten 10 of the people who are there.

‘I can guarantee you that whoever wins gold I would have beaten in the past year.’

Muhammad, who won a bronze medal through the repechage after Garcia Hemme
made the final, refused to enter the controversy. That was left to his
coach Joseph Salim. He said: ‘I think it affected all of us. Was it
enough of a distraction to affect his performance today Maybe. But it’s
difficult to say if Aaron would have done better.’

We will also never know what
Stevenson would have done had she not endured losing both of her parents
to cancer within three months of each other in 2011.

What was clear to see in her 5-1
defeat by McPherson was that the clear-sighted passion which inspired
her to World Championship gold in May last year with her mum and dad
fighting terminal illness back home is no longer there. Grief appears to
have sapped her desire and to be competing in London at all was a
remarkable achievement for the 29-year-old from Doncaster. Stevenson
said:

‘I didn’t win what I wanted to win but I just wanted to wake up tomorrow and have no regrets and I don’t think I will have any.

Disappointment: Sarah Stevenson went out in the first round

Disappointment: Sarah Stevenson went out in the first round

Out she goes: Paige McPherson beat Stevenson

Out she goes: Paige McPherson beat Stevenson

‘The girl’s a good fighter but
whether this would have been the same outcome 18 months ago, maybe not. I
wouldn’t have had to have a mental fight every day for the last 18
months. I would have been able to focus on taekwondo, but there are
more important things.

‘My mum and dad would have wanted me to be here and they would have been proud.

‘I would have been forgiven for sitting and crying in a corner but I am not a quitter.’

London Olympics 2012: BBC video highlights from day 14

Watch BBC video highlights from day 14 of the Olympics

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UPDATED:

01:01 GMT, 11 August 2012

British medal hopes continued to flourish in the final stages of the London Games as the boxers and taekwondo fighters secured yet more glory for the home nation.

Anthony Joshua booked his place in an Olympic boxing final as he cut down 6ft 9ins Kazakh Ivan Dychko with a big final round performance to pull out a 13-11 victory.

Not since 1908 have four British boxers gone through to gold medal matches but Joshua followed the earlier lead of Fred Evans and Luke Campbell – and Thursday's historic triumph by Nicola Adams.

There was also a bronze medal for Lutalo Muhammad who battled to an Olympic bronze taekwondo medal with victory over Arman Yeremyan of Armenia in the under-80kgs at ExCeL.

Great Britain claimed two more medals on the water in Weymouth, this time in the 470 sailing class. Both went into their medal races aiming for gold.

Sadly, Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell could not overhaul the Australian crew while Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark were beaten by New Zealand.

But let's not mention the relays. The GB 4x100m men made a hash of a changeover in the final and were disqualified, while the 4x400m men finished just outside the medal positions.

There's only a couple of days left, but fear not, there's still plenty to look forward to.

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London 2012 Olympics: Lutalo Muhammad win taekwondo bronze

Controversial taekwondo fighter Muhammad lands bronze in repechage

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UPDATED:

20:58 GMT, 10 August 2012

Olympics 2012

Britain's taekwondo fighter Lutalo Muhammad battled to an Olympic bronze medal with victory over Arman Yeremyan of Armenia in the under-80kgs at ExCeL.

Muhammad, 21, was a controversial selection for the Olympic squad ahead of world number one Aaron Cook, but could only make the last eight before he was beaten by Nicolas Garcia Hemme.

However, as the Spaniard went on to reach the final, the Briton was handed a second chance through the repechage where he beat Iran's Yousef Karami, winning 11-7 against the 2004 Athens bronze medallist.

Flying the flag: East Londoner Muhammad landed the bronze medal at the ExCel

Flying the flag: East Londoner Muhammad landed the bronze medal at the ExCel

That set up a clash with beaten semi-finalist Yeremyan, and the Team GB fighter, raised just a few miles away in Walthamstow, finally did himself justice with an all action display to win 9-3.

Muhammad, European champion earlier this summer at the under-87kg middleweight, came out to a raucous reception, the hosts having roared Wales teenager Jade Jones on to gold in the under-57kgs yesterday.

The 21-year-old landed an early head shot inside the first 30 seconds, which was upheld on video appeal and he led 4-1 at the buzzer.

Bronze age: Muhammad saw off competition from Iran's Yousef Karami in the Men's -80kg repechage

Bronze age: Muhammad saw off competition from Iran's Yousef Karami in the Men's -80kg repechage

The Briton slowed things down in round two, as he moved 5-2 ahead – and then landed another big axe kick as Yeremyan backed out of the mat to open up an eight-point advantage.

Muhammad controlled the final two minutes as he became Britain's first male Olympic taekwondo medallist.

Earlier, Sarah Stevenson – bronze medallist in Beijing and who won the world title last year before suffering a serious knee injury – lost in the first round to Paige McPherson. The American went on to win bronze through the repechage.

LUTALO MUHAMMAD FACTFILE

1991: Born June 30, Walthamstow, London.
Later introduced to taekwondo aged just three by his father, Wayne, who runs a training school.

2008: Wins silver at the British National Championships.

2010: Claims a bronze meal in the under-80kg at the Dutch Open.

2011: Joins the GB academy in Manchester.
Wins silver at the Dutch Open, in the under-87kg, and bronze from the Croatia Open, this time at under-80kg.

2012: Collects silver from the German Open and bronze from the Dutch Open.
May: Wins gold at the European Championships at under-87kg.
Controversially selected by British Taekwondo for the under-80kg slot on the London Olympic squad ahead of Aaron Cook, who is ranked number one in the world.
Cook appeals and initially the British Olympic Association (BOA) reject the nomination of Muhammad.
British Taekwondo selectors reconvene and again select Muhammad, with the decision this time supported by the BOA's qualification standards panel. The process is also backed by the World Taekwondo Federation.
August 10 – Wins Olympic bronze at London 2012 after coming through the repechage stage and beating losing semi-finalist Arman Yeremyan of Armenia.