The Olympic qualification system is a bit of a mystery to most people so here is a basic outline of how things work. The exact system has not been announced yet for Rio 2016 but let us assume that it will closely resemble that for London 2012 and previously Beijing.
- The MTB events will permit 50 riders competing in the men’s event and 30 in the women’s.
- There’s a minimum age limit of 19 years for all riders.
- To qualify to compete at the games a country must collect UCI points from participation in ranked events. These scoring events will take place in the 2-year run up to the games in 2016.
- The UCI publish a list of rider rankings based on a rider’s accumulation of points for a particular year.
- The nation’s ranking is obtained by summing the points of the three best placed riders in the UCI individual ranking. This is done for each of the preceding 2 years to arrive at an overall score.
- A country’s ranking will decide number of riders permitted to start for that country.
- For the women the top eight ranked will be allowed two riders and those ranked ninth to eighteenth will be allowed one.
- In the men’s case those ranked up to 5th will be allowed three, then up to 13th two and up to 24th one.
- The grid position of these riders will be decided from accumulated points at events immediately leading up to the games.
In conclusion for a country to qualify it must have at least 3 riders competing in UCI ranked events in the 2 years preceding the games (2014 for Rio), each taking home as many points as possible.
At the moment we don’t have any UCI races in Ireland so riders would be required to compete abroad in order to gain points.