Jo Pavey targets a sensational sixth selection for Tokyo 2020

PUBLISHED: 12:13 17 February 2018

Olympian Jo Pavey with Jo Earlam, Pauline Beare and the IP Office team

Olympian Jo Pavey with Jo Earlam, Pauline Beare and the IP Office team

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Devon’s five-time Olympian Jo Pavey has said she’d like to aim for what would be a sensational sixth selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Jo’s confirmation that she hadn’t ruled out trying to get into the next summer Olympic Games drew a round of applause from the 80-strong audience attending, ‘An Evening with Jo Pavey’ , held at Darts Farm, Topsham.

The talk was hosted by organisers of Devon’s women-only marathon Women Can. Jo supported the launch of the inaugural 2017 race and is helping to promote the 2018 event, which takes place on Sunday, May 27, at Tipton St John, close to where Jo lives in East Devon.

Jo’s running career already spans a phenomenal 30 years – from her 1988 win at the English Schools Championships at Yeovil, the height in 2014 when she won a gold medal in the 10,000 metres at the Zurich European Championships, her participation in five Olympics including Rio 2016 and her ongoing track and field competitions.

She captured the public imagination when she won at Zurich aged 40, against competitors half her age.

She joked that team-mates had referred to her as ‘granny’ and she earnt a double-barrelled name among sports commentators, who referred to her as ‘Jo Pavey-Forty’.

Jo says: “I never thought I would get a gold. Winning at the European Championships taught me not to give up on my dreams. I haven’t ruled out an autumn marathon and I haven’t ruled out trying to get into the next Olympics.”

Jo put her midlife success down to the happy balance of being a mum and able to involve children Jacob and Emily in her training schedule, along with husband Gavin, who’s her coach. She said being able to train in her home county of Devon was a big part of enjoying the effort required to stay at the top of the sport.

“This is such an inspiring county in which to live,” she said. “I’m lucky that Devon is a place to be active.”

She told how on a recent training run across Woodbury Common, the action was more than she bargained for, as she’d stumbled into the middle of a Royal Marine firing exercise and couldn’t find an easy route out.

She talked about her struggle to overcome injury many times and her disappointment that the success she’d hoped for in the early part of her career was partly thwarted by drug cheats. She placed fourth in the 2007 Osaka World Championships, but the results were overturned ten years later.

She was awarded the bronze medal at London 2017, with the added excitement of Usain Bolt being in the stadium at the time.

In answer to questions, she revealed her breakfast is generally porridge, with sometimes half a tin of tuna, and after a training session an egg butty, or jacket potato. She said her medals were kept in a drawer next to the drinks cabinet as she didn’t feel the need to have them on display, but she always enjoyed taking them into schools to try to inspire the younger generation.

Her talk certainly inspired the audience, who gave her a warm round of applause and many queued to buy signed copies of her book: This Mum Runs.

Women Can race director Pauline Beare said it had been an honour to host the evening and that Jo was an inspiration to many. She thanked Darts Farm and Cotswold Outdoor for providing the venue and support and the evening’s compere BBC Radio Devon’s Vic Morgan. Also, the Women Can headline sponsor, IP Office Limited, for their overall backing of the Women Can marathon and relay.

Details of other business partners, charity support and how to enter the race are on the event website www.womencan.co.uk

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