UCI publishes qualification system for track cycling at 2012 Olympics: doesn't look good for team GB
We may look back wistfully to the glory days of Athens and Beijing
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) yesterday published its qualification system for track and mountain biking - with road racing coming soon - for the 2012 Olympic Games to be held in London. The shock news for a dominant Team GB - that has famously won multiple medals in individual and team disciplines at the two recent Olympics in Athens and Beijing - is that each nation can now only field one athlete per event.
Furthermore, the qualification events will now include the European Championships which has hitherto been an under-23-only event.
The full implications of this will need to be digested but it's certainly going to hit Great Britain's track cyclists badly who in 2008 came back from Beijing with 7 out of the available 10 track gold medals. There were a further four silver and bronze medals for GB in the same events.
Sir Chris Hoy won three titles, Bradley Wiggins two while Victoria Pendleton and Rebecca Romero also claimed a gold each.
Hoy and Wiggins were members of the gold medal-winning team sprint and team pursuit squads, respectively.
Britain secured gold and silver medals in the men's sprint and men's Keirin, with Hoy finishing ahead of Jason Kenny and Ross Edgar, respectively, as well as the women's individual pursuit, where Wendy Houvenaghel finished second to Romero.
Steven Burke was third behind Wiggins in the men's individual pursuit and Chris Newton took bronze in the men's points race.
This development comes hard behind the UCI's recent plan to balance the men's and women's events by discontinuing some of the men's disciplines where Britain had traditionally done well, such as Bradley Wiggins in the individual pursuit.
Team GB Performance Director Dave Brailsford appears to be taking a sanguine view, thinking that by focussing riders on an individual event it might open up some opportunities for others. The BBC this afternoon was quoting him, "There will be just one rider in the keirin, one in the sprint and then team sprint so we might have to think a little bit more carefully about who focuses on what in that respect."