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London 2012 Olympics qualifying: Taekwondo

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Sarah Stevenson's guide to taekwondo

How qualification works:

KEY DATES: TAEKWONDO
30 MAY 2011
GB to assign weight categories to its four host nation places
30 JUNE-3 JULY 2011
World Qualifying Tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan
27-29 JANUARY 2012
European Championships in Kazan, Russia - final continental championship

There are eight taekwondo events at the Games - four for men, four for women - and each nation may enter a team of up to two men and two women.

This means, unusually, that nations can only hope to enter half of the events on offer, and must choose where their best medal prospects lie.

The first stage of qualifying is a World Qualification Tournament scheduled for July 2011 in Azerbaijan, from which the top three competitors in each Olympic weight category will gain places on behalf of their country at London 2012.

More qualification places are then up for grabs at the five continental championships. In the Asian, European and Pan-American events the top three athletes per weight category get the nod for 2012; in Africa that figure is two, and in Oceania just one.

That provides a total of 120 qualification places. There are four more invitational places on offer once normal qualification routes close, and Britain, as the host nation, is entitled to four more.

Qualification places are earned by athletes on behalf of their nations, so the athlete who earns the place may not be the one chosen by their country, at a later date, to fight at the Games.

However, there is a set of criteria in place which any competitor nominated for the Games must pass in order to compete. (See the "Athlete Eligibility" section of the full qualification document for 2012.)

Aaron Cook
Aaron Cook is the rising star of British Taekwondo

How are British competitors doing?

Britain does not take any formal part in qualification tournaments in taekwondo, as the GB team already have four guaranteed places at their disposal.

GB officials must notify the World Taekwondo Federation by 30 May 2011 regarding the weight categories - two for men, two for women - in which they want to take up places.

On the evidence of the December 2010 WTF world rankings, three of those places may well be spoken for.

Sarah Stevenson and Bianca Walkden are both ranked second in the world in the women's -67kg and +73kg categories respectively, though the +73kg category becomes +67kg for the Olympic tournament, which may complicate Walkden's qualification.

Aaron Cook is the world number one in the men's -80kg category and can fully expect to be handed a place in the Olympic competition.



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