Even for a national mountain bike champion, the uphill challenge facing Sam Fox qualifying for next year's Olympic Games may be too steep.
Despite establishing himself as Australia's best by leading the charge at last year's Commonwealth Games and then claiming this year's national title, the Launceston rider looks set to be squeezed out of Paris by the sport's quota system.
Olympic spots are secured based on nations' international performances and increasingly Fox has found himself fighting a lone cause to get his country over the line.
"I think Paris is heading in the direction of being off the table so I'm setting a long-term Olympic goal over four years and there is a lot to improve and change in that time," he said.
"That seems like a long time but it's good to have that long-term goal and it's something to work towards. Plus hopefully I'll still be around for 2032 in Brisbane."
Due to turn 24 during next year's Games, Fox would appear to be in his prime but is well aware that mountain bikers have a long career-span with his benchmark rival Daniel McConnell having contested four Olympics and last year's world champ Nino Schurter still setting the standard at 37.
The former Trevallyn Primary, Riverside High and Launceston College student said Olympic spots are based on a top-18 nation rating. The top nine get two spots and the remainder one.
"Australia is currently ranked 23rd so does not have a spot in the mountain bike race yet," Fox said.
"So there's a few challenges to getting selected. I have to try and qualify a spot and then earn selection for that spot."
Ranking points are earned at world cups and world championships but Fox has had little Australian company at these mainly European events with fellow Launceston Mountain Bike Club member Cam Ivory among the few to compete.
"I could have qualified at worlds but a crash and a mechanical took me out," Fox said.
"The only other way is to pull Australia back into the top 18 but it has been just me racing this year. Cam did a bit but he's paying his way and his budget is not endless.
"It would be much easier with more riders. If we had three chasing points it would be a more achievable target. It comes down to us getting over there ourselves, so it is really a financial situation.
"It was frustrating as a privateer not to have that level of support but it is a lot more expensive for Australians to commit funding than European countries because it does not cost them as much money to get to those races. It's quite achievable for them to send four or five riders to a race whereas that would be very expensive for Australia."
Shortly before August's world champs in Scotland, Fox announced he had signed with UCI mountain bike team Lapierre Mavic Unity for 2024.
Although he will contest road nationals "for fitness" in January before heading overseas in April, Fox said his schedule will be focused entirely on mountain biking.
"Being a full-time athlete will help a lot. No longer having to work means I can focus on training and getting all the boxes ticked.
"Hopefully in eight years I won't be the quickest because we've got some talented juniors coming through and the Australian mountain bike scene is huge. We just need more opportunities to keep juniors in the sport and racing."