Grant Ferguson Interview | We Talk to the Mountain Biker Representing Team GB in the Rio Olympics
"It’s the biggest sporting event in the world, so to be a part of that is amazing...”
There have been a lot of career firsts for Scottish-born mountain biker Grant Ferguson in the past 12 months.
Grant won his first World Cup event at U23 level last August, claimed a bronze in the U23 World Championships in September, and is currently enjoying his first season at elite level in the cross-country World Cup series.
On Sunday he’ll tick another memorable box on his bucket list when he sets off from the start line of the Olympic Games, and while he admits he’ll be in Rio more for the experience than to challenge for a medal spot, the Team GB mountain biker is relishing the opportunity.
“It’s my first Olympics, so I’ve got massive things to learn from it," said the 23-year-old. “I just want to go out there and perform my best.
“It’s more about gaining the experience for my career. It’s a massive race and whatever I can learn from it will be huge. It’s great to be involved.
“In the culture you grow up in it’s the biggest sporting event in the world, so to be a part of that is amazing."
Ferguson was a late addition to the British Cycling contingent, being added to the team in early July after being left out of the initial announcement in May.
His inclusion is the result of two years of hard cycling for Grant, who has been working towards the required points tally for Rio since 2014. He’s been dreaming of competing in the Olympics for far longer than that though, he tells us.
“It was a bit maybe, maybe-not if I was going to get a spot, so I was really happy – over the moon to be honest. They had already announced the squad and then I was added in just after. It’s brilliant.
“It’s been four or five years since I moved straight down to Manchester when I left school. We went to London 2012 as part of a British Cycling programme where we could go along and watch some events.
“We got to watch the women’s mountain biking which Annie Last was in, so we got quite a good experience and from that point on I knew it was something I had to do. That’s four years ago now and I’ve been working really hard to score the points for this in the last two years.
“It gives you a bit of an insight into how it’s run and what’s going on but that was obviously a home Olympic Games and you felt kind of comfortable because you were in the UK. This one is Brazil, so it’ll be different but it’s still an Olympic Games and it’ll be massive."
With 15th and 17th place finishes under his belt this year, the future is bright for the British mountain biker, who has enjoyed outings to World Cups in Canada, America, Switzerland and more this year.
He admits that the move to the top level of the sport has been a tough one, but is eager to keep learning and improving.
“This year has been a bit of a step up from the U23s," he continued. “It’s my first full season in the elites for World Cups. It’s the main race now and all the big boys are there but it’s going well. I’m enjoying it and I’m learning a lot which is good. But it’s a big step and just about adapting to that.
“It’s always small things but it’s just if you make a mistake make 10 people will come past you instead of one. I’m definitely learning but it’s my first year in that category.
“The Olympics will be great for experience and British Cycling are always great for help and advice."