When we first heard that world No. 1 taekwondo fighter Aaron Cook was disgruntled after being left off Team GB’s London squad, allegedly out of spite, we wrote him an open letter inviting him to come compete for USA’s red, white, and blue.
Now that might actually be an option.
“In three years I may be under a different flag,” Cook told the BBC Monday. “My dream is to win an Olympic gold in Rio for Team GB, but it’s going to be extremely difficult for me to move forward after everything that’s happened.”
Cook decided to leave he Team GB academy in 2011 to instead hire independent coaches after a poor showing at Worlds. In perceived retaliation, the British team then chose 103rd-ranked fighter, Lutalo Muhammad, to take his place. Cook eventually lost three very public appeals with the Team GB’s board and the World Taekwondo Federation.
His talented replacement, Muhammad, ended up winning bronze in London, somewhat vindicating the decision. But the scars still remain for Cook and four years may not be enough time to heal.
“I’m world number one, I’m reigning European champion, I’ve beaten the guy who they selected in front of me and the Olympic gold and silver medalists this year,” Cook said. “I should have been at that Olympics.”
He then added that he felt the decision was person and that if the people responsible don’t resign or get fired then he and his team will realistically look at competing for another nation in 2016.
So I reiterate: Aaron, come fight for Team USA. We love a winner.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the American sprinters whose raised-fist salutes at the 1968 Olympics are an ageless sign of race-inspired protest, will join the U.S. Olympic team at the White House next week for its meeting with President Barack Obama.
Smith and Carlos were sent home from the Olympics after raising their black-gloved fists in a symbolic protest during the U.S. national anthem. They called it a “human rights salute.”
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun asked them to serve as ambassadors as the federation tries to bring more diversity to its own ranks. They will join the team at the White House next Wednesday, then later that evening at an awards celebration in Washington.
The sprinters have been referenced frequently in the recent protests, spurred by Colin Kaepernick, during national anthems at NFL games. One player, Marcus Peters of the Chiefs, raised his own black-gloved fist before Kansas City’s season opener.
“I think Tommie and John have played an important and positive role in the evolution of our attitudes about diversity and inclusion, not only in the United States but around the world,” Blackmun said Friday night at a dinner to celebrate the U.S. performance in Brazil this summer.
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The men’s marathon world record has been broken five of the last nine years at the Berlin Marathon.
Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang, who broke the world record at the 2013 Berlin Marathon, believes that he can do it again on Sunday, when the race will stream live on the NBC Sports app beginning at 2:30 a.m. ET.
“I’ve trained well and, three years down the line from my world record here, I feel good and believe I have the potential to attempt the world record once more,” he said at today’s press conference, according to the IAAF. “Running at the top level, there is a lot of wear and tear on the body, especially when you are running for a time, but I am very focused on the world record.”
Kipsang clocked 2 hours, 3 minutes, 23 seconds when he broke the world record in 2013. A year later, fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto lowered it to 2:02:57 on the same course. Kimetto will not race in Berlin this year.
Kipsang will be challenged by Kenyan compatriot Emmanuel Mutai, who has the fastest time (2:03:13) in the field, and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.
Bekele is a three-time Olympic track champion and the 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder, but acknowledged that his marathon personal best of 2:05:04 places him a distant fourth in the field.
“I consider my personal best of 2:05 to be slow compared to the best runners,” he said. “I want to run as fast as I can on Sunday and beat my best.”
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