SIBLINGS who started rowing at The Grange School have been selected for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Tom and Emily Ford are among the 45 rowers selected to feature for Team GB at the delayed Games this summer.

Both now represent the Leander club, where they moved to progress their careers as full-time athletes, and it will be their first appearance at an Olympic Games after having represented their country at international level for some time.

And the symmetry continues in that they have both been selected in the eights, Tom, 29, in the men's and Emily, 26, in the women's.

Becoming Olympians is a long-held aim for the pair that hail from Holmes Chapel.

Both rowed in Olympic boats at the 2019 world championships, though last year's events were wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.

They were welcomed back to their former school in Hartford in 2019 to officially open the new £6m sports centre.

And they told how they had first picked up an oar during their school studies.

Sport was a big part of their education, with Tom telling those gathered at the opening that rowing, football, cricket and more was a welcome distraction from lessons.

Emily told the Guardian: “I did some netball and swimming, but I started rowing at around 13. It really took off so I went down that route.

“We have got two older brothers and when they started at the school they were told ‘you’re big’ and that they would make good rowers.

“We were drawn into it from there and have never looked back.”

Double world university gold medallist and U23 international Tom has his sights set on a podium spot in Tokyo.

Newcastle University graduate Tom was first selected for the GB rowing team at U23 level in 2013.

He raced in the men’s eight at the World Rowing U23 Championships in Linz, finishing fifth.

The following year he was part of the GB U23 men’s eight that placed sixth, and the gold-medal winning FISU men’s eight.

After university, he joined Leander Club to train full-time.

And he was invited to train full-time with the GB Rowing team in 2017.

He won bronze with the men's eight at the World Rowing Championships in 2018 and 2019, silver in the same boat in the same years at the European Rowing Championships.

Emily broke into the GB Rowing team senior squad in 2018, having competed at junior and U23 level.

She won successive medals at the World U23 Championships in 2015 and 2016 – a bronze in the four in the former and a silver in the eight at the latter.

In 2018, she rowed in a pair with fellow Leander rower Emily Ashford at the first World Cup in Belgrade, finishing sixth.

She moved to the women’s eight for the second World Cup in Linz where the crew finished fourth and was named as a spare for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships and the World Championships.

Emily also won the Town Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in a GB Rowing team composite crew.

She has part of the women’s four for the 2019 season, finishing sixth at the European Championships and at World Cup II in Poznan and seventh at World Rowing Cup III in Rotterdam.

Tom will be one of seven Olympic debutants, not including the cox, in the men's eight alongside Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist Mohamed Sbihi.

Also in the crew are Josh Bugajski, Jacob Dawson, Tom George, Charlie Elwes, Oli Wynne-Griffith, James Rudkin and Henry Fieldman (cox).

Sbihi said: “It's really exciting given it's 12 months later than we all expected. It does feel a little different than normal but I know it must be so exciting for those making their debuts.

"I remember what it was like for me being selected for my first Games and it’s still pretty awesome. We train incredibly hard and compete incredibly hard, and competing at the Olympics isn’t about being extraordinary, it's about doing what we normally do, staying grounded and humble and giving our all out on the water.”

In the women's eight with Emily are Fiona Gammond, Sara Parfett, Rebecca Edwards, Chloe Brew, Katherine Douglas, Caragh McMurtry, Beccy Muzerie and Matilda Horn (cox), who will benefit from the experience and support of five-time Olympian and three-times Olympic silver medallist, Fran Houghton, who is sharing her knowledge and expertise with the crew.

British Rowing director of performance Brendan Purcell said: “When we qualified our 10 boats for the Olympic Games back in September 2019 we had no idea of the challenges that would lie ahead.

"We used the lockdown time away from competition to focus on ourselves and individual development. Since then, the group have thrived, topping the medal table at both the 2021 Europeans and the World Rowing Cup II.

“Obviously, this Olympic Games will be a totally different experience with it being the first time in over two years we’ll be competing against many crews from the rest of the world.

"We don't have a real form line on them but we believe in the work we are doing and the results of our own performances and it’s a great opportunity for the coaches and athletes to go out there and write a unique chapter in the legacy of the British Rowing team in this unique year.”

Mark England, Team GB Chef de Mission said: “For most of the team Tokyo will be their first taste of Olympic competition, and I am sure they will look to draw on the experience of the eight Olympians named in the squad.

“The team has had some promising results in recent weeks, topping the medal table at the European Championships and World Rowing Cup II, and I am sure they will relish the opportunity to show their form as they race the Olympic course at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay in July.”