Aaron Cook (taekwondo)
|Competitor for Great Britain|
|Gold||2010 Saint Petersburg||80 kg|
|Gold||2012 Manchester||80 kg|
|World Junior Championships|
|Gold||2008 Izmir||78 kg|
|Bronze||2006 Ho Chi Minh City||68 kg|
|European Junior Championships|
|Gold||2007 Baku||73 kg|
|Competitor for Isle of Man|
|Gold||2013 Swedish Open||80 kg|
|Pan American Open|
|Gold||2013 Pan American Open||80 kg|
Aaron Arthur Cook (born 2 January 1991 in Dorchester, Dorset, England) is a British taekwondo athlete who fought at the 2008 Summer Olympics. He is the current -80kg European Champion and is ranked as World Number 2 in the −80 kg men's category. In December 2012 Cook confirmed a switch in allegiance from Great Britain to the Isle of Man. He intends to continue to represent Great Britain at Olympic level.
Cook attended Manor Park First School, St. Osmund's Middle School and the Thomas Hardye School, all in Dorchester. However, Cook never completed his GCSE examinations, as he was busy devoting his efforts and concentration on achieving Olympic success. He has however said he intends to return to full-time education once his fighting career has ended.
Breakthrough to seniors
Cook made his breakthrough into senior competition at the 2007 Dutch Open Championships held in Eindhoven, aged 16. He took bronze in his debut seniors competition, losing to French athlete Torann Mazeroi 12–10 in the quarters.
The following week Cook appeared in the German Open Championships in Bonn to take his maiden senior open title. In the final he defeated fellow team member Davoud Etminani 12–11. He then went to compete and secured his place on the British team for the 2007 World Taekwondo Championships at a closed-door round robin competition held at Loughborough University. At the 2007 World Taekwondo Championship and on his debut he was drawn against Iceland in the first bout, he won on superiority over his opponent. In the second round he faced the toughest opponent of his young career, Hadi Saei of Iran who placed first at both the Madrid 2005 World Taekwondo Championships and the 2004 Olympics. Cook could not pass the experienced Iranian with a final score of 11–6.
Later in his debut year, Cook qualified for a spot on the British team for the 2008 Olympic Games by competing at the 2007 World Qualification Tournament held at the MEN Arena Manchester. In the first round he faced Ireland's Sean Joyce, Cook won 9–2. He won with the same score against Switzerland's Markus Jiskra. In the last 16 Cook faced Philippines' Briones. Cook secured a victory with a score of 5–2. However in the quarter finals Cook's tournament ended in a 5–3 defeat to the 6 ft 5in Italian Mauro Sarmiento.
2008 Summer Olympics
In his Olympic debut Cook defeated Anju Jason representing the Marshall Islands. The match finished 7–0 in favour of Cook. The second match was against a higher class of competitor, but he defeated Carlos Vasquez of Venezuela 5–2. In the semi-finals Cook lost again 6–5 to Sarmiento.
After defeat in the semi finals this placed Cook in the bronze medal match of the repechage against Zhu Guo of China. Cook lost the match 4–1. He was baffled that a protest was not lodged against the result by his supporting team: "I am so gutted. I came so close. I thought the scoring was absolutely horrendous. I don't know what the judges were looking at, they must have been looking in the crowd. 'I never tried so much in a match, and it still wasn't enough, and then I didn't know what I had to do. I am miles better than that guy. The crowd didn't affect me, but it must have affected the scoring. 'I can't believe the scoring. Words can't explain how absolutely gutted I am to come so close to a medal. I had the right tactics. I'd have been five to six points ahead in any other taekwondo fight."
World Taekwondo Tour 2009 Mexico
In the men’s −80 kg final match, Cook came from behind to defeat the American Steven López with a knockout victory. In the second round of the final match, he sent López, the five-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist, to the floor with a headshot. After winning £17,880 Cook said "To beat the world champion makes it the greatest win in my career so far. It is amazing to take gold." 
2012 Summer Olympics
Prior to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Cook was involved in controversy relating to selection for the games. Although ranked number one in the world, Cook was overlooked by the GB selection team in favour of world ranked 59th, Lutalo Muhammad. With Cook considering legal action, his agent said "If the British world number one and reigning European Champion does not compete, it will be a national disgrace". "This is an embarrassment not only for the sport of taekwondo internationally, but also for Great Britain's international reputation in hosting the London 2012 Games." Much of the British Taekwondo community felt that Cook was overlooked due to leaving the GB taekwondo Training camp in Manchester to train with his own coaches. Team GB performance director Gary Hall commented on the controversy by saying that "In some ways, Aaron has a bigger marketing machine than the whole of GB Taekwondo." Women's world champion Sarah Stevenson defended the selection, saying that "To be world number one on a rankings system is not what taekwondo is, it doesn't mean you're the best in the world. I don't even care or know what ranking I am, and people need to realise this. It's really unfair that GB Taekwondo are getting criticised for not picking a world number one." However Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail noted that Stevenson is married to Steve Jennings, who is on the selection panel for GB Taekwondo.
Competitor for Isle of Man
Following his omission from the Olympic roster, Cook announced that he would no longer compete for GB and would instead switch allegiances to the Isle of Man. He competed for the first time representing the Isle of Man at the 2013 Swedish Open, going on to win the gold medal in the −80 kg category. Competing for the Isle of Man Aaron won a Gold medal at Pan American Open in Mexico in 2013 by beating Beat Mexico 15-3, Canada 16-4, USA 14-5 and Costa Rica in Final 12-3. He was also awarded best fighter in the tournament.
- "Official Home of the British Olympic Association". Team GB. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- "Video – Heartbroken Cook blames judges". BBC News. 22 August 2008.
- "Cook boils over after taekwondo medal loss to Chinese". Daily Mail (London).
- "Cook delight after beating champ". BBC News. 16 November 2009.
- "London 2012: Cook considering legal action after omission". BBC Sport. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
- "Aaron Cook: What more could I have done to gain selection for London 2012 Olympics? asks snubbed taekwondo star". Telegraph. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- Hope, Nick (1 June 2012). "London 2012: No Cook 'witch-hunt', insist GB Taekwondo chiefs". BBC Sport. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- "Cook a victim of sport's secret society". Daily Mail. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "Aaron Cook set for Isle of Man switch after London 2012 snub". BBC. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
- "Aaron Cook wins taekwondo gold for Isle of Man in Sweden". BBC. Retrieved 10 February 2013.