Fortunately, she has one more shot at her dream. Paris 2024 looms large on the horizon, and Cook, needless to say, is desperate to make it third time lucky next year.
She knows she is in the last-chance saloon this time. At 32, the Liverpudlian – who last year married her long-term partner, Britain-born Moldovan taekwondo fighter Aaron Cook – jokes she is “getting on”.
“The body is starting to break down a bit,” she says, laughing. “I still have the ability to be where I need to be for the Olympics. But I’ve had a difficult last six months. I had really bad knee problems and actually had to have surgery in the end. I’ve only just come back now. But I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. One last dance and you’ll see me hopefully in Paris winning that gold.”
It would be some story if she could do it. Cook already had two anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions prior to Tokyo. She also experienced no end of indirect trauma with then boyfriend Aaron going through a long and ultimately unsuccessful battle of his own to achieve Olympic glory, a journey that first began to veer off track when he was controversially left out of the GB team for the 2012 Olympics in London despite being ranked No 1 in the world in the -80 kg division. He went on to represent the Isle of Man and then Moldova as he desperately sought a route to glory. But all to no avail.
“He’s retired now,” Cook says. “He’s actually a national coach for Saudi Arabia so goes back and forth to Riyadh a lot, which gives me a chance to move back in with Jade!”
‘This is my last dance. My one and all. And I’ll give it my soul’
Cook only moved out of Jones’s flat and in with her husband after they tied the knot in Italy last year, a “magical day” attended by about half the GB team.
She later sends me a photo of her in her wedding dress, squaring up to her new husband. But she assures me that she and Jones, two years her junior but for whom Paris is also likely to be a final shot at glory, are still “joined at the hip”.
“Oh, definitely. Aaron and I are only 10 minutes down the road, so I’m still over at Jade’s all the time! She can’t get rid of me. When Aaron was away recently, I think I slept at Jade’s for about two weeks straight. So, we’re still always there for each other. And we always will be. We’re not just team-mates. We’re family now. She was one of my bridesmaids.
“When we’re not together – for instance she’s away training at the moment in Croatia – I miss her every day. But we’re still together on the phone all the time, talking about training, pushing each other to make sure that we give it one hell of a final run and see if we can both come away with gold.”
Their combined impact on GB Taekwondo cannot be underestimated. Beth Munro, a para-fighter who won silver in Tokyo and is also going for gold in Paris next year, says both Cook and Jones are generous with their time and knowledge.
“As a fellow Liverpudlian I get on really well with Bianca,” says Munro, the 30-year-old who was born without part of her left arm and was scouted by Disability Sports Wales in her late twenties, having grown up playing able-bodied sport alongside twin sister Faye. “She’s a lovely person and she helps all the younger players. When she’s on the pads you can see how into it she is, passing her knowledge on.
“I actually think as a squad we’re in great shape. We’ve got youngsters who are nipping at the heels now. Once the big names have moved on, I believe they will be able to reach the same heights as they have.”