Aaron Cook, the world’s top-ranked 80kg taekwondo fighter, has switched nationalities from Great Britain to Moldova.
“Despite the fact that there is no legitimate case for nationality change here, the [British Olympic Association] cannot compel any athlete to represent the United Kingdom against his or her will,” British Olympic Association CEO Bill Sweeney said in a press release. “As such, and as Aaron has now reiterated that he wishes to represent Moldova, rather than the country of his birth, at future taekwondo competitions, the BOA will not stand in his way.
“We are saddened by Aaron’s decision to make himself unavailable for selection for Team GB and to instead compete for Moldova, but we wish him all the best for the future.”
Cook, 24, was left off the Great Britain Olympic team for London 2012 despite being world No. 1 at the time in his weight class. He was training outside the British national team program at the time.
He lost in the round of 32 at the last World Championships in 2013 while representing the Isle of Man, which is part of Great Britain for Olympic representation purposes. This year’s World Championships are in Chelyabinsk, Russia, in May.
Cook lost a bronze-medal match at the Beijing 2008 Olympics at age 17.
Moldova has competed at the Olympics since 1994 and won seven medals — no gold — and none in taekwondo, according to sports-reference.com.
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With a bronze medal in Lake Placid earlier today, Kendall Wesenberg became the first American to reach the World Cup podium in skeleton in two years.
Wesenberg, who finished 17th at her first Olympics in PyeongChang, had a combined time of 1:51.10 in Lake Placid. Prior to today, her last podium finish at the World Cup was in St. Moritz in January 2017.
“This has never been my strongest track, so we really broke it down piece by piece, and I think it paid off,” Wesenberg said, according to USA Bobsled and Skeleton. “The second run, I kind of tried to throw it away at the top there. By the time I made it to corner 10, I was just thinking ‘build speed, build speed.”
Wesenberg, 28, grew up in California’s Central Valley, but her interest in sliding sports piqued while watching the 2010 Vancouver Games. When the commentators discussed the athletic backgrounds of the athletes, Wesenberg realized she played some of the same sports growing up. A quick Google search brought her to the USA Bobsled and Skeleton page. She told her siblings she was thinking of trying skeleton. They said she’d never do it. Challenge accepted.
Wesenberg emailed a U.S. coach and signed up for a combine and driving training in January 2011. Seven years later, she was sliding on Olympic ice.
Sliding coverage continues today on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, with women’s bobsled live at 3:15 p.m. ET and men’s bobsled live at 4:15.