Every country in the world gets a chance to compete in every sport, however because there are approximately 175 (give or take) countries on earth and only a finite amount of space for each sport, the process of whittling things down begins 2-3 years out.
This same process also limits the number of start positions any one country can have in order to keep the event the global ideal it is designed to be. It is the same for every sport.
For BMX in 2008, there are a maximum of three (3) men and two (2) women start positions available for any one country, including the US. Positions are earned through a worldwide formula that the UCI has established in their role as cycling's global governing body. In broad form it is simple, but it does have some complexities and caveats.
UCI points earned by US riders between Jan 1, 2006 and May 31, 2008 all go into a US points "bucket" called UCI Nations Ranking. They still belong to the individual that earned them, but for the sake of determining start positions, they live in this "bucket". Riders from other countries are doing the same with their points. On May 31, 2008, Olympic start positions will be awarded based on countries total points in the UCI Nations Ranking. Only points from the top three (3) riders in UCI points are used when it comes time to tally for Olympic start positions. This keeps it fair for all countries, especially those that do not have great depth.
Currently, the top five (5) countries in men's UCI Nations Ranking will earn the maximum of three (3) Olympic men's start positions. The top four (4) countries in women's UCI Nations Ranking will earn the maximum of two (2) Olympic women's start positions. The process tapers from there to also include both World Championship results and invitational places. However, for the US to earn the maximum available start positions, UCI points and Nations Ranking are all that matter.
The complete detailed document, and all related information, is available from the [url=http://www.uci.ch/]UCI website[/url].
For US teams and athletes, it is critical that any and all UCI designated events are a priority on race schedules from this point forward. It is also critical that we all work towards filling UCI race fields and finishing UCI races strong, even if not racing for the win. It is the collective efforts of all that will drive us towards securing the maximum number of Olympic start positions in 2008.
If you have any questions on this or any other, please feel free to contact me anytime.
[url=//fatbmx.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1400]Doug Martin USA Cycling BMX Programs Director [/url]