Scotland’s Grant Ferguson and Lee Craigie were crowned British Champions on home soil at the British National Mountain Bike Cross Country Championships.
The duo led from the front in their respective male and female senior events and were cheered across the finish line by vocal home support at Cathkin Braes Country Park, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games venue.
Both bikers took a major step towards qualification for Team Scotland and are now gearing up to be on the starting line in just over a year’s time.
For 19-year-old Ferguson, from Peebles, making the team is top of the agenda having already sampled the environment at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man.
“I really enjoyed that, it was a great experience to be part of Team Scotland and to learn to work within the team and help support everyone around you. With Team Scotland, in a Glasgow Games, a home games, in such a big event it will be great.”
“I’m really pleased to be British Champion as it’s been a target for a couple of months and I really wanted to nail it especially on the Commonwealth Games course a year out, so I’m over the moon.”
£The course is awesome and I could hear folk shouting for me so I wanted to impress. Next year it will be massive to have a home crowd behind us. It will help give us that edge over everyone else we are racing so I’d ask the Scottish fans to buy loads of tickets and fill the venue so no-one else can get in then it will be awesome.”
Glaswegian Craigie, a qualified psychotherapist, was equally effusive about the potential that Scottish support can play.
She said: “Having the home crowd cheering me on was amazing and it does give you that little extra edge. You can prepare all you like, but with folk actually cheering your name and feeling that they are behind you it gives you that extra five percent boost which can be massive when you consider the margins in which international races are won and lost.”
“Come on Scotland, that camaraderie is what we do best. We can do amazing things if we have the nation behind us. When I’m racing I’ve got my head down but every shout goes in and makes a difference.”
Craigie suffered a chain malfunction on the final lap of the exciting Cathkin course, but kept her cool and following a quick repair, rode to victory on a course on which she has already enjoyed success, winning a Scottish Series event in May.
£I feel really comfortable on this course”, smiled Craigie. “Normally the night before a race I lie down and visualise a course and I always go blank on certain areas, but here I can play the whole route through in my mind and I feel confident and happy on every section. That makes a big difference.”
“It was huge as for me to win for three reasons: it’s the British National Championships; it’s at Cathkin Braes in my hometown and it’s on the Commonwealth Games course. You could convince yourself at times out there from hearing people cheering your name that it was 2014. With the set-up and the support, I could get a sense of what it’s going to feel like. It’s so exciting for everyone and it’s going to be so inspiring for the next generation. I feel really privileged to be one of the hopefuls.”
Photo Credit: Andy Whitehouse