JOE FERGUSON is thrilled to have gone from ‘humble’ beginnings at Barnsley AC to the World Championships, and has praised the local coaches who helped him on that remarkable journey.

The 22-year-old sprinter from Darton is currently in Eugene, Oregon, USA for the worlds in which he will take on the best runners on the planet over 200m this week.

His athletics career started nine years ago, after becoming disillusioned with his first sport of football, at the Dorothy Hyman Stadium in Cudworth.

Ferguson will now emulate Hyman, who represented Great Britain in the Olympics, as a Barnsley person running at a major global competition.

Joe now runs for Leeds City as well as working part-time at a jewellers and studying psychology at university.

He told the Chronicle: “It’s been quite a humble journey. I have not been like quite a lot of the people from London who have always been good and always in the spotlight. I was a normal club runner at Barnsley and nothing special for the first few years. But I slowly chipped away consistently for nearly ten years and got to this point.

“Barnsley AC was everything to me. I couldn’t be where I am now without having that foundation down there.

“They gave me the mindset to push on. I always did things right there and didn’t take shortcuts to get to the top.”

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Ferguson has had an extraordinary 2022, chopping more than half a second off his personal best and claiming silver at the British Championships which earned him his first senior international call-up. The 200m heats in Eugene are due to take place in the early hours of Tuesday morning, UK time, followed by the semi-finals the next day and the final on Friday morning. Joe said: “I just want to show the world I am there to compete. I am not there just to make up the numbers. I will focus on getting out of my heat then, if I get to the semi-final, I will treat that like my final. Anything that comes from there is a bonus.

“I want to either consolidate my time or push on even further, to cement my place in the team and let everyone know I am one of the best in Britain and supposed to be there.”

Along with Ferguson, scheduled to compete over 200m in Eugene are last year’s Olympic champion Andre De Grasse from Canada, reigning world champion and home favourite Noah Lyles and Joe’s GB team-mates Adam Gemili and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake.

“I will be racing alongside some of my idols. To be head-to-head with someone like Adam Gemili ,who I have been watching since I was 13 or 14, it’s a dream come true. There will be a lot of fast guys there. I will be one of the youngest. It won’t be easy but I will do my best.”