Sprinter Joe Ferguson is hoping to make a name for himself at the British Athletics Championship this weekend as he sets his sights on the Tokyo Olympics next year.

The 20-year-old from Darton has represented Great Britain at youth level but is now aiming to break onto the senior scene over 200m at the event in Manchester which begins today. 

Ferguson told the Chronicle: “I just want to produce my best performance and get a good time. I will focus on making the final then see what happens. It would be great to get a medal. I am going there to get myself on the radar and let everyone know what I can do, then I will improve a lot next season.

“It will be behind-closed-doors and everyone will have their temperature checked. Earlier in the season, you had to run in alternate lanes but they have changed that now and you can run next to each other which is better. There will be fewer competitors than normal so it will be a quiet meet but the racing will be really competitive and a good experience.”

The Olympics in Japan, which have been moved back a year due to the coronavirus crisis, are scheduled for July and August 2021.  Ferguson said: “I am definitely aiming for Tokyo. If this year had gone to plan, it would have been within my schedule and it still could be.  My coach is optimistic about it. If I can get a full year of training in, with no major problems, I have a good chance of running the qualifying time.”

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Ferguson trained six days a week through most of the summer despite the lockdown. He said: “It’s been a strange year but I’ve been really focused. There have been restrictions on accessing tracks but I have stuck to my programme as much as I can. I have laid down some good foundations for the future. 

“Some people saw the lockdown as a chance for a break and maybe have been demotivated but other people, like myself, have seen it as an opportunity to try to get ahead and get all the work done for the future. In May and June and July, I was training six days a week – three in the gym and three on the track and another circuit session, so it was pretty full on. In August, I haven’t been training as much so I can be fresh for races.  “I am now just trying to find my race sharpness which is difficult because I have got out of the habit.”