By Tom Masters
After breaking the British record in Varese, Tom Ford believes the men’s eight can go even faster in their pursuit of defending their World Championship title.
Ford, who was part of the bronze medal-winning eight from Tokyo, has enjoyed a stellar run in the two years since, including an unbeaten 2022 which included European and world titles.
The European title has already been defended in 2023 and now all eyes turn to Belgrade and defending their World Championship title, which would also qualify the boat for next year’s Olympic games.
And the 30-year-old from Holmes Chapel is insistent that anything other than winning gold in Serbia will be a disappointment, despite the added pressure the eight are under.
“Everyone will talk about this year being Olympic qualification, so I guess that is kind of the bottom line,” he said.
🏆2023 World Rowing Championships 🏆
The #GBRowingTeam are tackling 7 days of racing in Belgrade, Serbia 🇷🇸 🇬🇧
Find live results on the British Rowing website 👇 https://t.co/kUeNKs5I4l
Watch the racing on @WorldRowing's live stream 👇 https://t.co/fQ1ppa633I pic.twitter.com/v1Z30ezX0H
— British Rowing (@BritishRowing) September 4, 2023
“Ultimately though, our target is to win the Worlds, we were world champions last year, so we want to try and hold our position and obviously if that is our aim then we don’t really need to think about Olympic qualification – the aim is to be on top of the podium and show that we are still the fastest in the world.
“I think there is added pressure though being defending champions, you become the people with the target on your back, the way we see it is we still have a point to prove, especially from the last Olympiad, there are a few of us returning from the eight that raced in Tokyo and we felt like we probably did not perform to our full potential.
“So there are definitely a lot of us in the boat who feel they have a point to prove and that we can still get quicker and show that we are still the quickest.”
Despite breaking the British record in the World Cup II event in Italy in June, the eight have not taken World Championship preparation lightly, with Ford warning that they can get even quicker.
He added: “We had a very tough camp at altitude and we are starting to come out of that and find more and more speed, so it is just about getting that speed on the day and dealing with the pressures that come with it.
“The internal pressure is more that at the end of the day, it is great to go quickly but if you go quickly and don’t get the result, then it does not really mean anything.
“We knew we were capable of doing that and breaking the British record, it wasn’t something we set out to do necessarily but the conditions were right and the day was right, so it kind of just happened during that race.
“I don’t think that is our top end at all, we can definitely find more than that.”
📣 World Rowing Championships: Team Announcement 📣
62 athletes have been selected across the three squads to represent Great Britain at the 2023 World Rowing Championships in Belgrade, Serbia from 3-10 September 2023 🇬🇧
Full team list 👇https://t.co/cJ8WaKMLVF#GBRowingTeam pic.twitter.com/r4q6Nvgcyb
— British Rowing (@BritishRowing) August 22, 2023
All focus is on the week in Belgrade and retaining their World Championship title but Ford admits he is only human and the prospect of taking two steps up the podium in Paris next year is one he is dreaming of.
“Everyone individually, everyone as a nation, the whole system is built towards the Olympic Games, obviously our usual four-year cycle has been three this time because of Covid, so that is slightly different,” he continued.
“Ultimately everyone’s dream is to win Olympic gold, everyone in this building is here because they want to win Olympic gold, so to say that people do not think about it would be a lie to be honest, it is on everyone’s mind for sure and I think you want to try and get your performances in.
“If you perform well at Worlds that puts you in a good position for getting selected, our team is so strong that getting selected is a tough gig in itself, so if you can get in that position then you know you are going to be in a very strong boat, so there is a good chance.”
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