So you want to compete in Olympic BMX? Well, with BMX racing in its first cycle as an Olympic sport, the total number of slots for competitors is fairly small -- only 48 spots are open in the 2008 Olympics. 32 of these are designated for male racers and 16 are for women. But, these positions are earned through a process established by the UCI (International Cycling Union) and are the same for every country, so your chances are as good as anyone else.
As a global event, the Olympic Games offer every country the chance to compete in every sport, so the process is a balancing act of finding the best racers in the world, while allowing a breadth of competition for many countries. That means there is a limit to the number of start positions any one country can have in order to feature racers from around the world.
For BMX in 2008, there are a maximum of three men and two women start positions available for racers from any one country. These positions are earned through a process the UCI has established which applies to countries worldwide who wish to compete.
Riders earn points for placing in UCI-sanctioned events between January 1, 2006 and May 31, 2008. These points go into a pool earned by all racers from their country called UCI Nations Ranking. They still belong to the racer that earned them, but for the sake of determining start positions, they are also tallied in this pool.
At the completion of the qualifying period ending May 31, 2008, start positions for the Beijing Olympics will be awarded based on the total points by country in the UCI Nations Ranking. Points from the top three riders in each country are used determine Olympic start positions.
Under present rules, the top five countries in the men's UCI Nations Ranking will earn the maximum three Olympic men's start positions. In women's racing, it is the top four countries which will be awarded two start positions. Other racers are included in the field beyond these positions awarded by the UCI points process on the basis of performance in World Championship events and other competitions.
So, to become an competitor in Olympic BMX, the key is to race, and place, in UCI-certified events. This gives your country a certain number of guaranteed start places, and puts you in the standings among competitors from your country.