'Magpie' Cooke taking inspiration from outside sources ahead of Tokyo tilt

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Versatile Cooke, 30, was crowned individual world champion in Mexico City in 2018
Versatile Cooke, 30, was crowned individual world champion in Mexico City in 2018

Clive Woodward, Jonny Wilkinson and Owen Farrell are the unexpected sports stars fine-tuning Jamie Cooke’s tilt at Tokyo 2020 glory, writes Will Jennings.

And the Bath-based pentathlon ace reckons adopting a ‘magpie’-like mentality to the wider sporting community can propel him to gold in Japan this summer.

Cooke, 30, will be one of four modern pentathletes donning the Team GB jersey at the Olympics alongside Joe Choong, Kate French and Joanna Muir.

The 2018 world champion’s brother, Mark, is a semi-professional rugby player and when reading Woodward’s book – Winning!– Cooke stumbled upon a name he now credits as pivotal to his global crown: Dave Aldred.

Sports guru and motivation speaker Aldred was a mentor and coach to 2003 World Cup hero Wilkinson and Cooke, a three-time European medallist, has revelled in his insight since joining forces in 2017.

TOKYO 2020 - 'I KNOW WHAT I NEED TO ACHIEVE' - ADAM PEATY TARGETING MORE GOLD FOR TEAM GB
TOKYO 2020 - 'I KNOW WHAT I NEED TO ACHIEVE' - ADAM PEATY TARGETING MORE GOLD FOR TEAM GB

Cooke, whose sport constitutes fencing, swimming, show jumping, shooting and running, said: “I was reading Clive Woodward’s book and he kept mentioned this guy called Dave Aldred.

“I was like: ‘right I’m going to do a little bit of research into him.’ My brother’s a kicker in rugby, and when he kicks his goals it’s a very closed skill with a lot of pressure on.

“When you extrapolate that up to Owen Farrell and all the big boys kicking in front of crowds, I think that’s very similar to shooting – a closed skill in a pressured environment.

“I got hold of Dave’s number, gave him a call, and he said he’d be in Bath [where Pentathlon GB train] the next day.

“He’s helped me immensely. All sport is roughly the same – I love the crossovers and what Dave brought from rugby – and golf – in terms of stance, position and accountability in training sessions was really key.

“Dave changed a lot of the way I thought about training and how I approached it – I couldn’t recommend him highly enough, to be honest.

“Jonny’s an incredible sports star, a living legend who changed rugby in terms of bringing kicking and scoring points to the forefront. 

“I’m fascinated in learning from other areas of a sport – I truly believe you can be a magpie and learn from as many elements as you can to bring to your own performance.”

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Cooke’s partnership with Aldred saw him crowned individual world champion in Mexico City in 2018.

And that was bolstered by a silver medal in the team event alongside Choong, 26, and Myles Pillage as Cooke catapulted himself into Tokyo contention with a pair of performances to savour.

Pentathlon GB are based at the University of Bath where they have access to cutting-edge facilities, coaches and accommodation.

And grateful Cooke, whose exploits in Tokyo will be broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+, added: “Asa programme and unit we’ve come out incredibly strong after a tough year for everyone.

“We’ve been incredibly privileged to train at the University of Bath. Now you only have to look at the performance that a lot of the members of the squad have produced this year, and it’s phenomenal in terms of performing on the world stage. 

“And now there’s the light at the end of the tunnel – with the Olympics.”

Stream every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+, The Streaming Home of the Olympics.

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