Manchester-based taekwondo star Aaron Cook has admitted he was left feeling ‘numb’ after hitting out at missing the Olympic Games.
Cook, world number one in the under-80kg division, was omitted from London 2012 in favour of Lutalo Muhammad, who has stepped down from the under-87kg class where he won a European title in Manchester earlier this year.
The decision has created controversy and Cook is expected to reveal whether he plans further legal moves, having seen an appeal to the British Olympic Association fail.
However Cook, 21, is adamant there is an agenda against him from GB Taekwondo after he withdrew from their world-class performance programme to pursue his own training schedule last June.
“It is hard to put into words," Cook told the Daily Telegraph. "I just feel numb. The last five weeks have just been a nightmare.
“My results are vastly superior to Lutalo's. The quality of players I have faced is far higher and I have won nine of my last 12 tournaments.
“I have recently defeated 10 of the top 15 qualified 2012 Olympians and world medallists including five-time world champion and two-time Olympic champion Steven Lopez and the current under-87kg world champion Yousef Karami and the under-80kg world champion Farzad Abdollahi.
“According to my coach, Patrice Remarck, GB Taekwondo also questioned my ability to perform under pressure and how I might perform in front of a home crowd.
“I find this a strange point as I have a proven track record of success under pressure at home as well as abroad, including seven British Open wins, an Olympic test event win and the European Championship.
“Why have I not been selected? Simple. Because I left the British Taekwondo system last year.”
Cook’s final option for appearing at London 2012 – aside from an intervention by the World Taekwondo Federation – is taking his case to the courts.
However, Muhammad, ranked 59th in the world in the under-80kg division, insists the controversy has been hard on him too and should now be put behind them as the focus turns towards the Games.
“It's been tough on both of us," he said.
“I don't really think that's been fair. At the end of the day we're both European champions.
“We both just want to compete to the best of our ability so I think the fact that there's been all this going on is probably not fair on me or him.”