In a detailed interview with Sportzwiki, Luke Cook, the brother and coach of a world renowned taekwondo athlete Aaron Cook says, “Each athlete Olympic journey is in their own hands.” Also, shares his views on the World Taekwondo Grandprix 2013 to be held in Manchester, UK this year from December 13th To 15th. Excerpts from the interview with Luke- Sportzwiki- Thank you for taking out time for the interview from your busy schedule Luke. Luke Cook- That is no problem at all. My pleasure! Sportzwiki- What is Taekwondo for you? Luke Cook- For me Taekwondo is a community that strives in bettering oneself, physically spiritually and respectfully as much as it is a martial art or sport. Sportzwiki- Tell us something about your Taekwondo journey so far. Luke Cook- I started Taekwondo when I was 6 years old, at the same time as Aaron in ITF Taekwondo, I needed some protection from his power ranger moves! I spent some time away to concentrate on my studies at the same time Aaron transferred to WTF code. I returned in 2007 to support my brother as he made his transition into Senior at the young age of 16 in his quest for Beijing. I knew my fighting days were over, but I really took to the sport in a strategic mindset. So the way I could help my brother was by analyzing his opponents from a statistical and tactical standpoint. In 2011, Aaron stepped away from the national center after a string of disappointing results, and in our first tournament together we swung it all back round and he was back in winning ways and never looked back. I’ve had some great opportunities to watch, learn and speak with some of the world’s best coaches including Patrice Remarck, Phillipe Pinerd and Ireno Fargas. I was given the wonderful opportunity to coach at the World Championships at such a young age of 24 which I’m really grateful for, and with a real live chance of helping guide not only Aaron but also 2 Moroccan athletes to medals. Unfortunately it was not meant to be, but was a great learning curve and I’m sure something that will help mold me into a better coach in the future, the journey is just beginning! Sportzwiki- How tough it is to be the Coach and brother of Aaron Cook? Luke Cook- For me the only thing that is tough is remembering which role I’m in at any one moment. I’m kind of like a 1 man team at most events. One minute I will be the trainer, next coach, next manager then the next brother and friend. On the actual mat it’s not that difficult, I’m really blessed that without being too big headed, Aaron is one of the best athletes in the world, technically, mentally and physically. He can do almost anything at any time of any leg. Some other coaches have described him as a genius, relentless and for his opponents a nightmare. He won’t win all the time, he’s not a machine. We’re both really competitive so a loss is always a hard hit, but in a course of a season of say 15 tournaments, 30-40 matches some of those will be losses. Especially in a sport that is dynamic as ours, with so many different elements to consider and having to put your best performances on the mat time after time in just 6 minutes it’s a lot to ask. You have to set realistic expectations and goals over a path of a season. The expectations on Aaron to perform and be a show exhibit sometimes can be really demanding, as some people seem shocked when he loses and start pointing fingers and looking for reasons for failure. And I’m sure some of those will be pointed at me as a coach but that comes with the territory I expect that. But I totally believe in my abilities as a coach, I won’t let anyone create a thought of doubt in my mind. As long as me and Aaron are on the same wave length and he trusts in my ability, then we will remain a team in the ring. I will always support my brother no matter what differences happen in the dojang. Sportzwiki- How is your preparation for the World Taekwondo Grandprix 2013? Luke Cook- Our preparation is going really well, we just returned from a 1 month camp in Pan America. Aaron picked up 20 ranking points, 2 gold medals, won 7 matches against strong competition as well as picking up 2 best fighter trophies! So it’s going really well. It’s really good to bounce back from the disappointment from the World Championships so quickly and put that at the back of the mind and get back to good memories, also with the Grand Prix coming up in December we have a really strong focus to put our attention on where as in the past the next major would of been the following year. We will now put our heads down in an 8 week camp until Manchester, Aaron won’t compete again until then and were looking forward to this event and ending the year on a high! Sportzwiki- What do you have to say to those participating in the Grandprix? And, how do you see this event? Luke Cook- To all the athletes I would say, let’s show the world what this sport is about. This event is being portrayed as like the champions tournament with the World’s top 32 fighters in each division. So I hope they can all put on a good show and not play too defensive. I feel the game is going the way where fighters are fighting not to lose, rather than to win. Hope we will see all the spin kicks and dynamism that this sport is famed for. I would also send my best wishes to all, it’s great that now each athletes Olympic journey is in their own hands not that of those in suits and ties, take your opportunities and fight with no regrets. This tournament is a step in the right direction for our beloved sport. The world’s best fighters going head to head, hopefully it will bring in new sponsors and TV interest after a successful 2012 Olympic Games, now our sport is secure for 2020. I hope it’s just the beginning of an exciting new chapter in Taekwondo. Sportzwiki- What do you do when you are not doing Taekwondo? Luke Cook- It’s very rare I’m not doing something taekwondo related, but if manage to get away from all the kicking I try and spend as much time as possible with my girlfriend in Croatia, but she is also a taekwondo fighter and likes to kick me for my time away so it’s not much of an escape. I also like going to the cinema, I’m a big film boff or developing my strategy mind by playing poker, or burning some rubber at the go kart track. I also love to travel, which is a big benefit with TKD, as I get to explore so many great countries and meet new friends from all around the world. Sportzwiki- How tough it is to find sponsors in Taekwondo? Luke Cook- It’s incredibly tough, the sport does not have much TV time or media exposure in most countries unless it’s the Olympics but it is becoming more popular. Hopefully the Grand Prix circuit will bring some more attention to our sport and raise its profile so that personal sponsorships become more attractive to companies. Aaron had a great team of sponsors going into London 2012, but all the contracts ended in December. We hope we are able to attract similar sponsors support for Rio 2016 but with the world’s economic crisis, it’s unsure how possible that maybe. We are currently funded by the bank of mum and dad or any seminars we run, but sometimes this can have a negative impact in a run into a major competition, as rest is a major element that many athletes can take for granted. But with no sponsors or government funding the bills are still there and have to be paid, were just really blessed to have really supportive parents they are incredible and couldn’t be more thankful of their support. If anyone is willing to support us they can contact our agent at the Professional Sports Group, and we look forward to a successful partnership together. Sportzwiki- Lastly, what message would you like to give to young athletes who are practicing Taekwondo? Luke Cook- Pick your goals, year by year, month by month, day by day and follow your hearts and dreams to the stars. Don’t give up, no road worth travelling is without it’s humps, diversions and incidents. Most importantly enjoy your Taekwondo for you! Sportzwiki- Well that’s all we had for you Luke. All the best to You and Aaron for the World Taekwondo Grandprix 2013, Manchester and the tournaments beyond. Have a great time! Luke Cook- Thank You. Best wishes Luke!