2012 USA Olympic Qualifying Criteria Announced

January 26, 2011 by  

Arielle Martin at the 2010 BMX World Cup/Chula Vista

Yesterday, USA Cycling released its selection criteria for the team that will represent the United States in BMX Racing (and the three other Olympic cycling disciplines) at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It is a fairly straightforward process, which spells out, in detail, all the criteria, including how “discretionary” selections should be made.

You’re not alone if it seems like, at several points over the past two years, we’ve heard “This is the point at which Olympic qualifying begins.”

Well, this time, it is really here. No, really… OK, not until August 1, but…

Keeping track of what’s going on, vis a vis Olympic qualifying, has been about as easy as figuring out who’s who at a triplets convention.

It gets easier when you separate RIDER qualifying (something that is handled by each nation’s National Governing Body for cycling, in our case, USA Cycling) from NATION qualifying–that is to say how many athlete slots a given nation gets at the games (which is decided through criteria administered by the UCI).

When a rider races an event that is designated “UCI” (such as the ABA/UCI races here in North America, or a UCI BMX Supercross event) s/he is earning points for their respective nation, based on their finish. And for certain among THOSE races, American riders are also earning USAC ranking points to determine the top riders among the Americans.

Adding to any confusion, the International Olympic Committee handed down a ruling last April that zeroed-out all qualifying points prior to May 6, 2010 (Read BMX News Story). So the whole thing had to re-start, 14 months in.


As we started to say above, the amount of athlete slots a nation will earn in the 2012 Games is determined by their UCI Nations Ranking at the end of the 2012 World Championships. These points started accruing as of the Copenhagen World Cup on May 8, 2010, and will include all races on the UCI Calendar from that date through and including the 2012 Worlds.

The top five nations in this ranking will receive three slots apiece for the men (15 total). Nations ranking 6-8 will receive slots for two men each and 9-11 will receive one slot each.

The top four nations will receive slots for two women and nations ranking 5-7 will receive one. There are other provisions for host nation and such, which do not affect US qualifying.

Currently, the United States is second in Nations Ranking points with 1457 points. Latvia leads it with 1602, after the monster season Maris had in 2010. Australia, France and Columbia round out the top five as of the most current update on December 20, 2010.


For Team USA, a maximum of three athletes will be selected for the Men’s Team, and a maximum of two for the Women’s Team. This assumes that the USA qualifies for a 3/2 (Men/Women) slot allocation, which will be known at the end of the worlds.

A centerpiece of the selection process is vested in the USAC “Power Rankings.” This system applies points to certain events (UCI Cat 4, 3, 2 and 1 races, as well as the USAC National Championships). USAC Power rankings are on the same schedule as the UCI season. In 2012 the season is August 1, 2011 – May 26, 2012 (the date of the 2012 UCI BMX World Championships in Birmingham, England).

On May 27, the day following the Elite mains at the worlds, one Mens slot and one Womens slot on the 2012 US Olympic BMX Team will be known, albeit unofficially. That’s because the top-ranked riders on the 2012 USAC Power Rankings will get the so-called “automatic” slot.

Then, for the men, a process will go into effect to select an additional eight-members to fill out the nine-member “Long Team.” The irony that it is called the “Long” team, and Nic Long is almost certain to be on it, is not lost on us.

The criteria for selecting the members of the Long Team will be (quoted directly from the document):

1). All US-eligible athletes placing in the top three (3) of the 2012 UCI Elite Men’s BMX World Championships, Birmingham, England, May 24-27, 2012, will be nominated to the 2012 Men’s BMX Olympic Games Long Team.

Editor’s Note: If USA riders fill the podium, all three will be on the Long Team. if only one makes the podium, that rider will earn a slot. If no USA riders hit the podium, no riders are selected for #1.

2). All US-eligible athletes placing in the top five (5) overall of the final 2012 USA Cycling BMX Power Rankings (Augist 1, 2011 – May 26, 012) will be nominated to the 2012 Men’s BMX Olympic Games Long Team.

3). All US-eligible athlete(s) who win a UCI BMX Supercross World Cup (Supercross) event between August 1, 2011 and May 27, 2012 may be nominated to the 2012 Men’s BMX Olympic Games Long Team. If more athletes qualify than positions available, then the highest-ranked athlete(s) in the 2012 USA Cycling BMX Power Rankings, as of May 27, 2012, may be nominated.

4). If positions remain, then athletes may be nominated to the 2012 Olympic Games Long Team by the USA Cycling Selection Committee, following USA Cycling Principles of Athlete Selection (Section II) and subject to review and approval of the USA Cycling Selection Committee.

5). In the event of injury, illness or any unforeseen incident, the USA Cycling Selection Committee may nominate a replacement athlete to the 2012 Olympic Games Long Team in order to compete in the Olympic Trials following USA Cycling Principles of Athlete Selection (Section II) and subject to review and approval of the USA Cycling Selection Committee.

Eight riders selected based on this criteria will compete in the US Olympic Trials, to be held June 16, 2012 in Chula Vista, CA. The ninth rider on the Long Team (the winner of the Power Ranking points) will officially be on the Long Team, but will not be required to compete in the Olympic Trials.

For that event, a full gate of contenders will take part in two time trials to determine lane choices, and will then race three motos and a main. The rider with the lowest points from those four laps will determine the second of the three slots.

The final slot for both the men and women’s teams will be the so-called “coach’s pick.”

The criteria for “discretionary” selections is fairly long and detailed, but it is the one area where performances earlier than August 1, 2011 can be taken into consideration, as well as intangibles such as an athlete’s “impact on the team and history of strong teamwork”. If you want to read the gory details, we will post a link to the document at the end of this story (discretionary selection starts on Page 5).

June 18, 2012 will surely be double-circled, in red, on the calendar of all American BMXers with Olympic aspirations for 2012. For it is on this date that the final roster will be announced to all athletes and submitted to the US Olympic Committee for their final approval.

Team USA will then have a little over a month to wrap their heads around their Olympian-ness before the Opening Ceremonies in London on Wednesday, July 25. Then, according to the London 2012 website, they will hit the track on August 8-10, where they will meet up with about 43 other athletes from around the world (48 BMX athletes total, between men and women).

Keep your eyes on BMXNEWS.COM for the latest on the race to London.

USA Cycling BMX

USA Cycling Selection Criteria – Men

USA Cycling Selection Criteria – Women

USA Cycling Document: “Power Rankings Explained”

USA Cycling Power Rankings

UCI BMX Main Page

UCI BMX Rankings Page

London 2012 BMX Racing Page