And there is no guarantee that one of them will be Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man or Yohan Blake, the world champion.
Those who have paid £725 for a ticket to the 100 metres final in London will hope these stars make it but the Jamaicans and Americans operate the same suicidal sudden-death system of picking their Olympic track and field teams.
The first three to cross the line at the trials – the US start today in Eugene, Oregon, the Jamaicans next week – go to the Games.
No excuses, no exceptions, not even if your name is Bolt. Fourth is nowhere. And if you stub your toe in the shower on Trials morning, bad luck. Four years hard work and a lifetime of dreams could be down the plughole.
The British are more subtle. The first two finishers at the Aviva Olympic Trials, which begin in Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on Tuesday, are guaranteed a place at London. Then subjectivity replaces objectivity because the third spot will be filled after a discussion behind closed doors among coaches and statisticians.