Updated: Sunday, 5th April 2020 @ 10:41am

Manchester-based Lutalo Muhammad delighted London 2012 taekwondo selection ordeal is over

Manchester-based Lutalo Muhammad delighted London 2012 taekwondo selection ordeal is over

By Steven Oldham, Sports Correspondent

Taekwondo fighter Lutalo Muhammad has described his joy at being picked to represent Great Britain after a highly publicised selection row ended last week with the BOA ratifying his position.

Muhammad - who trains at the GB Academy in Newton Heath - has been picked in the -80kg class by GB Taekwondo originally ahead of world number one and European champion at the Olympic weight, Aaron Cook.

After a huge and potentially damaging row, which saw appeals, rejections and finally the governing body's original choice being accepted, Lutalo will now compete for Team GB in August.

He said: "I am really happy, it's fantastic news."

"It has been an ordeal and it has been difficult at times. I am just pleased the Selection Panel has such confidence in me."

Lutalo - who himself won gold at the Euro's in Manchester last month, albeit at a heavier weight - received hate mail from angry fans of his rival, who publicly condemned such actions when they came to light.

Unphased however, the 21-year-old has continued to focus on his training - which he used to escape the escalating row outside.

He said: "I have trained ever since the  announcement that I was going to the Olympics."

"To be honest it hasn't been too hard because the team at the Academy has been right behind me."

"There's a fantastic spirit and it's helped me to see Jade Jones, Martin Stamper and Sarah Stevenson cracking on with their training."

London 2012 provides the British taekwondo team the chance to add to their single medal in Olympic history, a bronze won by Stevenson in Beijing four years ago.

Expectations are high after a year of unprecedented success for the country's elite athletes, including Cook, who trains outside of the national system.

Medals and tournament victories have become the norm for the British team, culminating in seven medals at the Euro's, their best ever haul.

Despite the acrimonious nature of the relationship between Cook and the governing body, both men have made it clear there is no friction between them.

Lutalo said: "I have no problems with Aaron and I still don't. We are both just athletes trying to perform to the best of our ability."

"It's been  a tough situation for both of us. I wish Aaron all the best for the future."

Given the nature of his selection, much more attention than expected will be paid to Lutalo's performance in London.

However, the Walthamstow born fighter is just looking to perform to his ability.

"My desire and will to win is very strong. I will give it my all."

"I am not really concerned about what anyone else might say. I don't feel under any extra pressure other than that I put on myself."

Lutalo's weight class fight on Friday, August 10.

Follow Steven Oldham on Twitter - @spoldham