Stuart Pickering's picture

Mum, can I go to the Olympics? aka South Africa’s 2016 Olympic selection criteria

Mum, can I go to the Olympics? aka South Africa’s 2016 Olympic selection criteria

Just recently USA Cycling published their Olympic longlists for selection for men’s and women’s mountain bike and women’s road teams, naming the lists of athletes from which final 2016 Olympic rosters will be selected next summer.  Their track long team will be published 15 December 2015. BMX and men’s road team selections will be made on June 24, 2016, with the final Olympic Team selection

So I made the suggestion to Cycling South Africa that a long list would be a good idea. I received a polite response from Mike Bradley (CSA General Manager) to read “Olympic qualification criteria for team confirmation dates as well as SASCOC team announcement protocols.”

Which I duly did.   I also read Cycling Australia’s Olympic selection criteria and USA cycling’s selection criteria.  If you have an hour or two here are the links and you can read them yourselves:

read Australia here:

read USA here:


Now if you look in depth, and it is worth looking in depth, Australia has very defined criteria to be picked for their shadow team from which the final Olympic selection will be made, it is Part D in their document:

2.1 Automatic Inclusion in the Shadow Team In order to be automatically included in the Shadow Team an athlete must achieve one of the following results:

(1) UCI Ranking: a. be inside the top 15 of the UCI Women’s Road Individual Cycling ranking at 31 December 2015; or b. be inside the top 15 UCI Women’s Road Individual Cycling ranking (if different to those above) at 31 May 2016 or;

(2) be the winner of the 2016 Australian National Road Race, or the Elite Women’s Time Trial Championships, held in January 2016,

(3) Achieve two (2) or more general classification or individual stage podium performances in the following UCI events inside the performance time period, subject to a road stage being over 100km in distance, and time trial being over 15km in distance.

· 2015/16 Giro d’Italia ITA (2.1)

· 2015 Int. Thuringen Rundfahrt GER (2.1)

· 2015 Open de Suede Vagarda (road race only) SWE (CDM)

· 2015 GP de Plouay-Bretagne FRA (CDM)

· 2015 Road Cycling World Championships USA (WC)

· 2015/16 Trofeo Alfredo Binda – Commune di Cittiglio ITA (CDM)

· 2015/16 Ronde van Vlaanderen BEL (CDM)

· 2015/16 La Fleche Wallone Feminine BEL (CDM)

· 2015/16 Ronde van Drenthe BEL (CDM)

· 2015/16 Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe NED (CDM)

· 2015/16 Luxembourg Tour de Feminin LUX (2.1)

· 2015/16 Boels Rental Hills Classic NED (1.1)

· 2015/16 Euskal Emakumeen ESP (2.1)


They of course do have “Discretionary Nominations” which can be used as follows if they do not have enough automatic selections but priority will be given to athletes meeting the automatic criteria:

a. demonstrated qualities, skills and suitability of the athlete to the proposed road and time trial courses for the 2016 Olympic Games; and

b. individual performances in UCI calendar road and time trial events; and

c. demonstrated ability to perform a team role as a domestique, servicing team leaders. Team results on courses having similar characteristics and profile to the proposed course for the 2016 Olympic Games will be considered in this assessment; and

d. demonstrated technical and leadership qualities.

Very importantly they boldly note:

“Performance Time Period” means from 1 March 2015 until 7:00am (AEST) 27 June 2016.

So this gets them the Shadow team and they then clearly detail what is needed for final automatic selection.


So far so good?


The USA publish their Long lists based upon their clearly defined criteria and they also allow discretional nominations.  All the criteria is clearly detailed in the selection document.  Not quite as complex as Australia but still very clearly defined and worth reading.

But in the Olympic Games specific document they also publish the very important qualification road map:

Women’s Road Race and Individual Time Trial Team Criteria Long Team Qual.

Period January 1, 2015- December 01, 2015

Long Team Size Maximum of ten (10) athletes Long Team Nominated December 1, 2015

Final Team Qual. Period January 1, 2016 –June 20, 2016

Final Team Size Maximum of up to four (4) athletes

Final Team Nominated June 24, 2016


So if you are and Australian or American cyclist by end of the year leading up to the Olympics you are either on a long list/shadow team and have a clearly defined route to possible selection

You more importantly know what standards you are expected to reach to gain that final selection!


Now naturally in South Africa we have far less riders competing in the European arena but let us now endeavor to understand SASCOC/Cycling South Africa’s selection criteria which can be found in the document:

SASCOC doc here:

Apart from general selection criteria based upon Nationality and age and whether you are “of good standing with SASCOC and the National Federation” the Sport Specific Selection Criteria reads as follows:


SASCOC will consider selection of athletes if qualification is attained through the:

Women’s Road Race

3.17 UCI Ranking by Nation of 31 May 2016

3.18 Qualification places attained through the Continental Championships will not be considered

3.19 The Qualification place is allocated to the NOC, not the athlete


Women’s Individual Time Trial

3.20 UCI Ranking by Nation of 31 May 2016

3.21 2015 World Championships

Deadline for Qualification 31 May 2016


So now we all know or do we? 

I hazard a guess the above will tell anyone looking to see what they have to do to represent their country absolutely nothing!

If I have made any mistakes in this or missed a document I apologise in advance but if I could only get this information, and I searched SASCOCs and CSAs websites, how on earth do CSA expect our cyclists to know what they have to do?  I would welcome Cycling South Africa's response.



As a footnote what is of particular interest will be the paragraph from the QUALIFICATION SYSTEM – GAMES OF THE XXXI OLYMPIAD – RIO 2016 document:

Rio doc here:

By 15 January 2016 (for men) and by 6 June 2016 (for women), the UCI will inform the respective NOCs/national federations of their allocated quota places. The NOCs will then have until 1 February 2016 (for men) and 15 June 2016 (for women) to confirm to the UCI if they wish to use these quota places, as detailed in paragraph H. Qualification Timeline.

This means the final women’s team will only be picked after 6th June, when UCI inform CSA of how many places we will get.   Interestingly CSA will know how many men’s places they will have by 1st February 2016.



Nike Vision