Bianca Cook left 'absolutely devastated' and 'grieving' after Team GB Olympics snub

Bianca Cook
-Credit: (Image: (David Davies/PA Wire))

Bianca Cook has admitted she’s been left devastated and feels 'let down' after being omitted from Team GB’s taekwondo Olympic line-up.

The 32-year-old, who previously fought under her maiden name, Walkden, had already admitted that this year's Games in Paris would be her last. Cook was hoping to secure a 'fairytale ending' to her taekwondo career after being forced to settle for gut-wrenching bronze medals in both Rio and Tokyo.

The three-time world champion, who was world number one for seven years until mid-2023 before she missed several events through injury, was informed on Monday that Rebecca McGowan had been selected over her.

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"It feels like a massive loss, like grieving, because I’m just absolutely devastated," she told BBC Sport about her omission.

"I didn’t expect to just be selected, I wanted to earn that place, and I thought that after dominating for so many years and the history that I've achieved for the sport, I deserved a fight-off.

"Paris was always going to be my last Olympics and I know in my heart I was capable of turning those shiny [bronze] medals into a nice gold one, so I'm devastated because it feels like my journey has been cut short."

Before she added: "I've had five knee operations in total, I've been through hell with my body and had some major, major injuries during my career, but I've never let it hold me back and I've always shown I can fight back to win.

"This time since coming back I've picked up medals here and there, it's just not consistently won the golds I'm used to, but [at the Olympics] it's about mentality. I believe I'm [still] mentally tough for this sport and thought I'd have this one last chance."

But despite the snub, Cook says she will still be cheering on the British team at the Olympics this summer.

"It’s not a personal matter with an individual, it's the situation," she revealed. "I wish her [McGowan] all the best at the Olympics and I genuinely hope Team GB Taekwondo go out there and absolutely smash it because it's a sport that I'm proud to be part of."

In a statement to the BBC, GB Taekwondo claimed they did not deny Cook a fight-off against the 24-year-old, and said that McGowan, who ranked higher than Cook at the end of the Olympic qualification period in December, was in a better position to win a medal.

"The Olympic Selection Panel felt confident that Rebecca McGowan was in a better position than Bianca Cook to contribute to winning the best set of medals for Team GB," the statement said.