Annie Last has secured a place on the start line at the Olympic Games after the UCI confirmed Team GB have qualified one male and one female rider in cross-country mountain biking.
The UCI’s Olympic nation ranking was finalised on Wednesday after a two-year qualifying period in which Last shouldered the burden as Great Britain’s sole female rider, while other nations had up to three riders scoring points.
Last, who finished eighth in the La Bresse World Cup, the final qualifying event, said: “It was a really tough race, but I was really pleased to do so well in my last qualifier. It’s great that now that box is ticked, I can focus on preparing for the Games.
“Instead of being able to pick some races that I want to train for, I’ve had to just race lots. It’s good to get plenty of race experience, but it’s meant that when I might be better to have a weekend off, I’ve been travelling around chasing points.”
Last will be Great Britain’s first female rider to compete at an Olympic Games since Caroline Alexander and Louise Robinson finished 12th and 15th respectively at Sydney 2000.
The London 2012 women’s Olympic mountain bike will take place on August 11, 24 hours before the men’s event, and the 21-year-old Last is going into the summer in the form of her life having claimed three top ten World Cup finishes this season, along with victory in the first ever cross-country eliminator event in Houffalize.
“It was the first time I’ve stood at the top of a world-class podium and had the national anthem played,” said Last. “I guess that gives you a taste of what you can achieve and so it gives you a confidence boost going forward.
“Three years ago, I wasn’t really thinking about making it to the Olympics. Now, I want to do everything I can to be in my best shape for the Games, so I’ll be able to do my country proud.”