From racing on Peebles’ bike trails to winding himself around Rio’s Deodoro Olympic Park, it’s been quite a rapid rise for Grant Ferguson.
But Great Britain’s sole mountain biker intends to fly the flag in style on the final day in Rio.
After two weeks of gold, silver and bronze, Ferguson – alongside Tsegai Tewelde and Scottish brothers Derek and Callum Hawkins in the men’s marathon – is among the last of the 366 Team GB athletes to appear in Brazil today.
He only jetted in on Monday, having spent time at training camps in America and Canada to fine tune his preparations.
It is undoubtedly a step up for the 22-year-old who, following his fifth place finish at his home Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, picked up World under-23 bronze and European Under-23 silver last year.
But having spent time getting to grips with the cross country track during the last few days, he remains confident of putting in a good showing on his Games debut.
“It’s been really great being a part of Team GB at an Olympic Games,” he said.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of different athletes and it’s been really enjoyable. But I’ve also been busy preparing.
“For me, a success will be if I am happy with my performance. This will be the biggest race I have ever done in my first Olympic Games. I just want to get going now.
“I got into the sport when I was younger, just riding around the trails near where I live and then I got into different forms of mountain biking. It’s a really enjoyable sport.
“I may be in the only mountain bike representative but I’ve got my coach with me and support staff plus at an Olympic Games everyone is part of Team GB.”
Ferguson will be up against stiff competition, including reigning champion Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic while Slovakia’s road cycling world champion Peter Sagan is rolling back the years to return to his mountain bike days.
Compared to the more level terrain of the London course last year, Rio’s 3.4 mile Olympic course has a mixture of grassy wide-open stretches interspersed with man-made obstacles and serious slopes.
Features such as ‘the flip-flops,’ ‘Rio rocks’, ‘coconut beach’ and ‘downtown’ are not only a nod to the host city but also designed to test the nerve.
And with leading riders having previously sung the course’s praises, Ferguson also gave the thumbs up to the Olympic Mountain Bike Course in Rio’s X-Park.
“It’s a really fast course with some tricky rocky features,” he explained.
“There are quite a few technical bits and some climbing in there too, but I quite like technical courses as I think that plays to my strengths.
“To qualify for Rio, it was based on a points basis so it was a bit on and off as to whether I’d make it but now I’m here, I want to enjoy it.
“I’ve still got a couple more races to go this season after Rio and then I will be done but I really want to use this race to gain experience to be able to push on for the years to come.”
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