Jo Pavey on mak­ing an im­pact at the 2018 Euro­pean Champs aged 44

Athletics Weekly - - News -

FOR Jo Pavey, it seems, there’s al­ways a rea­son to keep go­ing. She will be just shy of her 45th birth­day when the women’s 10,000m takes place at the Euro­pean Championships in Ber­lin next Au­gust, but that is cer­tainly not putting an end to any thoughts of an at­tempt at re­gain­ing the ti­tle she won so mem­o­rably back in 2014.

The ex­tent of Pavey’s nat­u­ral en­thu­si­asm, the depth of love for what she does, is seem­ingly lim­it­less and, though her body may have let her down on oc­ca­sion this year, op­ti­mism abounds when you speak to this ath­lete who has crammed just about ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence imag­in­able into a lengthy ca­reer which she doesn’t in­tend to end any time soon.

The com­bi­na­tion of putting her young fam­ily first – she’s a mother of two – and the chal­lenge of try­ing to be fully fit for early spring, have all but ended any ideas of mak­ing it on to the plane for the Com­mon­wealth Games in Aus­tralia.

But hav­ing a flex­i­bil­ity – to train­ing, sched­ul­ing and life in gen­eral – has been vi­tal in keep­ing her, quite lit­er­ally, on track for so long and in­stead her fo­cus has been trained on a sum­mer date in Ger­many.

“There’s al­ways a next thing to aim for, and some­thing to look for­ward to­wards,” smiles Pavey. “I’m get­ting older but you get ups and downs. Around June time, I felt younger than I had done for years and things were go­ing a bit bet­ter for me. The thing is that you get some years when you feel older but when things are go­ing wrong you can be 26 and feel old! You get years when you feel old and oth­ers when you feel young again.

“I’m still keen to try to qual­ify for the Euro­peans next year, so I’m go­ing to re­ally try to build into get­ting a good win­ter. But I prob­a­bly won’t aim for the Commonwealths.

“I’ve been very lucky to have had race

2017 MAY HAVE BEEN A YEAR HAM­PERED BY IN­JURY BUT JO PAVEY IS NOT ONE FOR LOOK­ING BACK. IN FACT, HER TAR­GETS FOR NEXT YEAR ARE AL­READY SET, WRITES EUAN CRUM­LEY PIC­TURES: JEFF HOLMES, VICTAH SAILER & MARK SHEAR­MAN

ex­pe­ri­ences and go to championships all over the world – and ob­vi­ously I did the Syd­ney Olympics and the Mel­bourne Com­mon­wealth Games. I’ve had those ex­pe­ri­ences and I just think to try and qual­ify for some­thing in March/April is go­ing to be tough.”

It would be made all the tougher by the in­jury which dis­rupted Pavey’s sea­son right when she wanted it least. Her beloved track has not been par­tic­u­larly kind to her of late and if 2014, which brought Com­mon­wealth bronze and that Euro­pean ti­tle, was a dream then 2017 has been some­thing a lit­tle more akin to a night­mare.

“I’ve had a frus­trat­ing time with in­jury, re­ally,” she adds. “I’d run a road race in June (New York Mini 10k) and had been pretty pleased with that but, about a week after that, I was do­ing 400s on the track. I’d done 14 of them and on the 15th one the plan­tar fas­cia near my heel tore.

“It was nig­gling dur­ing the ses­sion but at the end of the day some­thing is al­ways nig­gling so I thought I’d get away with it.”

Un­for­tu­nately for Pavey she didn’t and the set­back forced upon her a de­ci­sion she re­ally hadn’t wanted to make.

“That was when I’d said to the se­lec­tors not to look at se­lect­ing me for the world championships be­cause it was un­re­al­is­tic.

“They said I’d shown the fit­ness needed but the last thing I wanted to do was put my name down for the sake of it and then have to with­draw.”

That meant that, rather be­ing right in the thick of things, Pavey in­stead had a seat on the side­lines watch­ing the spec­tac­u­lar Lon­don 2017 ac­tion un­fold.

Yet still she was one of few Bri­tish ath­letes to re­ceive a medal at the un­for­get­table show­piece.

Pavey had been de­nied a podium mo­ment at the 2007 World Championships when she was beaten into fourth place by Turkey’s El­van Abeylegesse, who was ret­ro­spec­tively dis­qual­i­fied after be­ing found guilty of dop­ing.

It may have taken 10 years, but the Bri­ton fi­nally got her hands on the bronze medal to which she had been en­ti­tled in front of a home crowd which also in­cluded her two chil­dren.

As is typ­i­cal, she found a way to cast a

“YOU GET SOME YEARS WHEN YOU FEEL OLDER BUT WHEN THINGS ARE GO­ING WRONG YOU CAN BE 26 AND STILL FEEL OLD! IN JUNE I FELT YOUNGER THAN I HAD DONE FOR YEARS”

pos­i­tive light on a sit­u­a­tion which had been a source of per­sonal pain.

“It was dis­ap­point­ing not to com­pete at a home games, par­tic­u­larly as I got to take part in Lon­don 2012,” she says. “But of course I was very lucky to re­ceive my bronze medal from 2007 and to cel­e­brate that. So, iron­i­cally, I did get to go out and re­ceive my medal, al­beit 10 years late.

“I was very for­tu­nate to be a part of that championships, al­beit in a dif­fer­ent sort of way.

“It was amaz­ing and I was very, very grate­ful to every­one that made it pos­si­ble. It was very special and my chil­dren, who weren’t even born then (when the race took place), were there. It was very emo­tional.”

Pavey was fi­nally able to step back into the ac­tion at the week­end thanks to her par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Bank of Scot­land Great Scot­tish Run.

The sense of sat­is­fac­tion in her be­ing able to toe the start line for the half­marathon on the streets of Glas­gow was pal­pa­ble and also un­der­stand­able, given a prepa­ra­tion which re­quired her to be a lit­tle cre­ative.

“I’m just re­ally pleased to get back out there rac­ing,” she says. “With my his­tory of be­ing a track runner I nor­mally like to keep in touch with the track and to do track ses­sions just to know where I’m at. I was de­ter­mined to keep the track work go­ing but, with the in­jury, it was caus­ing too much dam­age and then af­fect­ing the rest of the (train­ing) week.

“So I’ve just been go­ing to a flat bit of road and just work­ing very hard. I just go up there and race my­self – just do half an hour of run­ning like it’s a race.

“I do that once a week and then I’ll also go up there and do road reps. I’ve been do­ing all my train­ing on the roads and on the trails.

“I al­ways make sure I’ve got the vol­ume of work done and then any speed­work I get done is a bonus.

“I’ve kept go­ing. If I’ve got an in­jury I don’t stop and rest it – it just means I can’t do ex­actly what I’d want to do.”

Yet keep go­ing Pavey does, with the drive com­ing not just com­ing from within but also from those younger ath­letes she finds her­self sur­rounded by.

For ex­am­ple it’s a very clear and ev­i­dent hap­pi­ness she feels for Char­lotte Pur­due, who also raced in Glas­gow and has im­pressed many ob­servers with her per­for­mances so far in what is a fledg­ling marathon ca­reer – par­tic­u­larly in fin­ish­ing as top Euro­pean at the world championships.

“She’s do­ing re­ally well,” says Pavey of the 26-year-old. “I’ve known her since she was a ju­nior and it’s great to see her go­ing from strength to strength and also find­ing her event. Now she’s moved up to the marathon and is get­ting stronger and stronger.”

And are any of Pavey’s younger ath­letic col­leagues now seek­ing her out for ad­vice, at­tempt­ing to tap in to her ex­ten­sive knowl­edge? Yes they are but, as it turns out, where that’s con­cerned it’s some­thing of a two-way street.

“At the Rio Olympics my team-mates were younger than me and en­cour­aged me with their en­thu­si­asm,” says Pavey. “We all work off each other re­ally.”

There’s al­ways some­thing to work for, after all. An­other rea­son to keep go­ing.

“IT WAS DIS­AP­POINT­ING NOT TO COM­PETE AT A HOME GAMES BUT I DID GET TO RE­CEIVE MY BRONZE MEDAL FROM 2007. I WAS FOR­TU­NATE TO PLAY A PART AT THOSE CHAMPIONSHIPS, AL­BEIT IN A DIF­FER­ENT SORT OF WAY” JO PAVEY on her podium mo­ment in Lon­don

Jo Pavey’s in­jury trou­bles be­gan not long after the New

York Mini 10k

Jo Pavey: lead­ing the way for some bud­ding ath­letes in

Glas­gow

Podium mo­ment: Jo Pavey and Amer­ica’s Kara Goucher (left) re­ceive the

medals they were de­nied 10 years ago

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