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Page last updated at 18:48 GMT, Saturday, 15 May 2010 19:48 UK

GB duo Sarah Stevenson & Aaron Cook win European gold


Taekwondo fighter Stevenson aims to better Olympic bronze

British taekwondo fighters Sarah Stevenson and Aaron Cook each won a gold medal on day three of the European Championships in St Petersburg.

Olympic bronze medallist Stevenson overcame a poor start to beat Turkey's Nur Tatar in the under 67kg category.

Cook beat Nikolaos Tzellos of Greece in the under 80kg category and turned a cartwheel of delight when the result of his contest was announced.

By contrast, Tzellos fell flat on his face when learning of his defeat.

Stevenson is experimenting in the 62-67kg category this season, having won bronze in the 67-73kg class in Beijing.

She hopes moving to a lighter weight category will help her better her Beijing bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics.

"This year will be a big test for me. I just want to give myself the best chance of winning in 2012," she said.

Teen Cook wants gold in 2012

Last year, Mancunian Cook, 19, beat world and Olympic Champion Steve Lopez.

The knock-out victory came during a World Tour match in Mexico with Cook collecting a cheque for over £10,000 in the process, which he has since used to fund his participation in further tournaments.

The teenager described his victory over the man he calls the "Muhammad Ali" of the sport, as the greatest win of his career. But it is success in 2012 that he now craves.

"There was so much attention on me, but it wasn't the Olympics, I haven't won anything big yet. It was great to do it, but I want to win gold in London," he said.

Cook broke on to the world scene in 2007 and was one of the youngest GB competitors in Beijing, where he made the semi-finals, only to have his hopes dashed when he was controversially adjudged to have lost this semi-final against Italian Mauro Sarmiento.

Stevenson was another who experienced high-drama at the 2008 Olympics.

She was initially eliminated from the competition at the quarter-final stage the judges failed to award her two points for a high-kick to the head against China's Chen Zhong.

A successful protest saw Stevenson progress to the semi-final, but she twisted her ankle and eventually lost 4-1 to Maria del Rosario Espinoza of Mexico.

"You can't plan for these things, one day I could have won gold, another nothing; I got a bronze and have to be happy"

Sarah Stevenson

However, the Doncaster fighter defeated Noha Abd Rabo of Egypt in the bronze medal match to win GB's first ever Olympic medal in the sport.

In an attempt to eliminate the subjective scoring of the judges, new electronic system has been introduced. Fighters now wear socks which create a wireless signal when they strike sensors on their opponent's vest, thus eliminating 'human error'.

Since Beijing Stevenson has suffered 18 months of injury frustration, but she says she's feeling confident about her chances in Russia.

"Beijing was really tough for me, but looking back I think I did the best that I could under the circumstances," she said.

"You can't plan for these things, one day I could have won gold, another nothing. I got a bronze and have to be happy.

"I don't think I'll ever be fully injury-free, but I'm about 95%, so I'm looking forward to competing."

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see also
Cook delight after beating champ
16 Nov 09 |  Taekwondo
GB Taekwondo eye new talent plan
23 Oct 09 |  Taekwondo
Two more Brits win taekwondo gold
31 Aug 09 |  Taekwondo

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