Lutalo Muhammad coped 'under incredible pressure' at Olympics

GB Taekwondo boss Gary Hall has praised the way Lutalo Muhammad coped with his controversial selection for London 2012 to win bronze.

Muhammad was chosen ahead of world number one Aaron Cook but became the first British man to win a taekwondo medal at the Olympics,

"Today he has shown what a world-class athlete he is. That's why the selectors picked him," Hall told BBC Sport.

"He's done a fantastic job under incredible pressure."

Cook v Muhammad

  • World ranking: Cook is number one in world at 80kg level, while Muhammad is 59th. However, Muhammad usually fights at 87kg, where he is world number seven.*
  • Head to head: Cook was beaten by Muhammad as the then 20-year-old Londoner went on to claim German Open silver in March. Cook avenged his defeat at the Dutch Open
  • Titles: Cook has won nine tour titles in the last year, including the Olympic test event. He won gold at the US Open, which Muhammad did not enter. Muhammad now boasts an Olympic bronze medal
  • Controversy: Muhammad received hate mail after he was selected ahead of Cook

*Source: World Taekwondo Federation

Hall added: "I know he would have loved gold, but to win a bronze medal in his first Games at 21 years of age against the backdrop of the pressure that has been on his shoulders is a stunning performance."

The London-born fighter admitted it had been a "tough ordeal" at times over the past few months while the debate about his selection was played out in public.

Muhammad had received hate mail in the build-up to the Games, but, after beating Armenia's Arman Yeremyan 9-3 to take bronze, he said: "I'm happy I had the mental toughness," said Muhammad

"I don't really see it as proving a point, but I'm very happy I was able to win a medal for Team GB and if that achieves anything else then that is a bonus."

Muhammad's display followed a gold for Jade Jones on Thursday, while Martin Stamper narrowly missed out on a bronze medal.

Although there was disappointment for world champion Sarah Stevenson, who was eliminated in round one, Hall was delighted with the team's achievements in London.

"Fifty per cent got medals. That's a great result," he said. "Jade is just 19, Lutalo is only 21, so the future is very bright heading off towards Rio, where we intend to win more medals and of an even better colour."