He can now say he is one of the best mountain bikers in the world; winning a bronze medal in the under-23 men’s cross-country race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Andorra just last week.
This year he also won gold in the under-23 men’s UCI Mountain Bike XC World Cup and silver in the under-23 men’s UEC Mountain Bike XC Championships. What a year!
It is of course Grant Ferguson.
The 21 year old from Peebles, who is part of Bart-Brentjens Mountain bike racing team, has come a long way since he joined his local kids club at Glentress 15 years ago:
“When I started there were no formal trails, bike shop or coffee shop at Glentress and over the years I have seen the place change and develop into what it is today. I was doing a lot of different sports at a young age but I became more interested in cycling because a lot of my friends also rode bikes.”
Grant was accepted on to British Cycling Olympic Development programme in November 2008 and went on to join the Academy Programme at the age of eighteen:
“As I finished junior and moved up to the elite category I was happy to get selected for British Cycling Academy Programme, which is a full-time programme based in Manchester. This was a new experience, as I had to move away from home and had to learn how to look after myself, cook, shop, washing etc. That took a bit of time but I soon learnt the essentials! As I was now a full-time cyclist it meant there was a big increase in my training compared to when I was at school and I had to learn to manage this and there was a lot more travel to different training camps and races, which was something I also had to learn to deal with.”
He had his first world cup podium result when, in April 2014, he won bronze at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Pietermaritzburg in the under-23 men's category cross country event.
Grant was also selected to represent Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where he finished in fifth place in the men's cross-country race at Cathkin Braes Country Park.
Mountain biking is definitely his sport, however like many elite cyclists – Grant started off by trying many different types of racing:
“As I started out I was racing many different types of bike races such as track, cross, TT's, road and mtb, which I think added a lot of variety to me as a bike rider. There was a lot of support available as I grew up especially from Scottish Cycling with different race trips and camps, which were a great place to learn different things about the sport. I also received support from Scottish Borders Council and Braveheart, which was a massive help for my family to help attend races.”
Scotland has produced some amazing cyclists over the years from Chris Hoy and Craig McLean to Katie Archibald and Grant Ferguson; however he says is not all about medals:
“I think that it is important to enjoy riding your bike and have fun. It is also important to learn skills at a young age, as it is a very useful thing when it comes to racing some of the technical XC tracks throughout the World. I think that youth racing in Scotland is good but if I compare it to youth mountain bike races in Europe where there are 200 people lining up, I think that this is an advantage to them but the more people we have riding a bike and racing at a younger age the better.”