An Auckland taekwondo fighter who opened a brothel to fund his campaign to go to the 2012 Olympics has won selection in the New Zealand team heading to London.
Logan Campbell, who reached the last sixteen of the U58kg division in Beijing, courted controversy in 2009 when he opened his Auckland city Gentleman's Club hoping to raise the $300,000 to help pay his way to the London event.
The move drew criticism from Taekwondo New Zealand, who said the move reduced Campbell's chances of being selected for the games, yet he has overcome that view and his financial concerns to win selection in the three-person team.
"I'm lucky they didn't hold it against me. To go to the Olympics I had to get the OK from New Zealand Taekwondo and the New Zealand Olympic Committee," explained Campbell.
"At any time if they said no to me, that would have been it. I wouldn't have been able to go."
With his place in the team secured, Campbell and teammates, Vaughn Scott and Robin Cheong, now have Olympic medals in their sights, with Campbell believing the change to electronic scoring at the Olympic Games to be significant for New Zealand.
"It's a huge leap forward as not only can they now record and score multiple points, any unconscious bias towards a higher-ranked athlete is also removed," he said.
"Electronic scoring now means there is a new winner every tournament. We've got a good chance of bringing home a medal."
The team train with the new system daily at their Brown's Bay dojang.
Campbell, returning to the sport after a break, has moved up the rankings to currently sit at eighth. Full-time training, a sports psychologist and strength and conditioning are part of a new regime.
"I know I'm better than last time. I'm a better fighter. I'm fitter, faster and smarter," he said.
"I've grown up mentally and physically and I'm very proud to wear the silver fern at my second Olympic Games."
For 22-year old Scott, his selection brings satisfaction after his mum inspired him to take up the sport just eight years ago.
In a quick rise to the top, Scott was named today in the highly competitive U80kg weight division. While his official Olympic ranking sits at 20, recent performances place him eleventh in the Olympic field.
The South-African born Aucklander once turned down a junior NRL scout and also excels at soccer and basketball.
Master Jin Keun Oh, National Team Head Coach for Taekwondo New Zealand, says Scott has outstanding talent. "Vaughn is young and has improved fast in the sport," said Master Oh.
"He competes in a very competitive division and in 2011 took on the world ranking number three player at the US Open. He lost by just three points.
"At London, the Olympic medal will go to the most focussed athlete, not the most experienced. Vaughn will be aiming for early impact."
Scott, whose mother holds a third-dan black belt in karate says he will give his first fight his all. "From 16 athletes in the Olympic first round, half will get knocked out," he said.
"I've got to treat every fight as if it's my last."
Scott moved to New Zealand when he was eight and says his mother suggested he try the sport as a fourteen year old. "She thought it would keep me out of trouble," he said with a smile.
The third team member, Cheong is a Korean New Zealander who will compete in the Women's U57kg division. Currently training and competing in Korea, Cheong is New Zealand's strongest performing Taekwondo athlete and sits at seventh in international rankings.
She competed in the U49kg class at the Beijing Olympic Games finishing with an Olympic Diploma in seventh place.
Taekwondo first appeared on the official Olympic programme in 2000 following successful outings in 1988 and 1992 as a demonstration sport. New Zealand has been represented in Taekwondo by Veronica Wihongi (Athens 2004), and Matthew Beach, Logan Campbell and Robin Cheong (Beijing 2008). No Olympic medals have been won.
The New Zealand team now consists of forty-three athletes including sailing, rowing, canoe slalom, dressage. Selection announcements will continue through to July 2012.