TOM Ford will defend the world title he won in 2022 with the Great Britain men’s eight in Sunday’s final in Serbia.

Tokyo Olympian Tom, 30, and his GB crewmates won their heat in Belgrade on Tuesday to go straight through to the 2023 World Rowing Championships medal race.

The former Grange School student was joined by Rory Gibbs, Morgan Bolding, Jacob Dawson, Sholto Carnegie, Charlie Elwes, Tom Digby, James Rudkin and cox, Harry Brightmore, for what was described as a ‘solid win’ in their heat in their first race since World Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland.

“It was good,” said James.

“Since Lucerne we’ve been away at camp and have worked on quite a lot of stuff.

“The wind is pretty swirly out there but it’s good to know that we’re competitive within the field.

“Obviously we won last year, the opposition has stepped on and we hope we have too.

“We’ve just got to stay focused, do our job and then we’ll see what happens. We’re looking forward to the final on Sunday.”

Tom’s sister Emily, 28, also a Tokyo Olympian and former Grange School student, has more races to come in order to win a place in finals.

She and Esme Booth were second in their repechage and went through to the semi final in the women’s pair (W2-) on Tuesday.

They were back in a boat a few hours later alongside Natasha Morrice, Rebecca Edwards, Lauren Irwin, Karen Bennett, Hattie Taylor, Annie Campbell-Orde and cox, Henry Fieldman in the women’s eight (W8+) where they finished second behind Romania and will race another repechage on Thursday.

Esme said: “It’s been a very busy day and I’m looking forward to getting back to the hotel and having a bit of a rest!

“The adrenalin is still pumping but we’re happy to be through in the pair and know we have some things to work on in the eight but we’ll go back tonight and have a watch over the race and make a plan going forwards.”

Emily added: “We built on what we wanted to work on in the pair and are happy with it. It’s also good to get a race in the eight and we know we can build from there.”

The Fords, who hail from Holmes Chapel, are seeking to capitalise on a successful regatta season so far.

The men’s eight recorded a British record time at World Cup II in June, while the women’s eight achhieved one of the stand-out performances of the season with their World Cup III gold in Lucerne.

Emily also won silver with the women’s eight in both the previous World Cup round in Italy and the European Championships in Slovenia, while she also placed fifth with Booth in the women’s pair in Bled.

Tom and his crew retained the European title in Slovenia earlier this year.

Finals will be shown on BBC2, BBC iPlayer and the BBC website.