Rio 2016: Jo Pavey prepares to represent Team GB at fifth Olympics

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport
Jo Pavey
Jo Pavey trains alongside her son Jacob

Jo Pavey's greatest year as a distance runner was arguably 2014 - gold at the European Championships came just 10 days after a famously gritty bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games.

All of that came as she juggled the needs of a one-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son - much to the acclaim of people everywhere as they celebrated the Exeter-based runner a "supermum".

Two years on, with her little family getting bigger, she is preparing for her fifth Olympic Games - a record for any British track athlete.

It is a training regime which is balanced around her son Jacob, who is almost seven, and little Emily who is approaching her third birthday. On the evening I meet her at the Exeter Arena, she and her husband Gavin, who is also her coach, were up against the clock as the children had been left with their grandparents.

But Pavey says making training a family affair has reinvigorated her - how many 42-year-olds will be donning their spikes in Rio?

"As a mum it's made me enjoy my running more," she said before one of her last training sessions on British soil before jumping on a plane to Brazil.

Jo Pavey
Jo Pavey's qualification for Rio was only assured at July's European Championships

"It's made me feel happy in my personal life, I feel like I've got that balance and it does make me enjoy running.

"The needs of the kids change and the way we can train as a family changes.

"It used to be my husband with a little boy on the back of a bike, but now my little girl goes on the back of the bike and my little boy's like a training partner now - he just whizzes ahead of me on his bike and I can't keep up with him.

"It's really kept my motivation going at this old age that I am now."

The age question has become something of a running joke for Pavey now - she knows she is getting older, but as yet there is no British woman who can match her over 10,000m.

But time will eventually catch up with Pavey, who is realistic about whether Rio will be her final Olympics.

"I would have thought realistically that it is, but I'm definitely not retiring yet," she said.

"I'm definitely not saying that I wouldn't give it a go in four years' time, but I would have never thought I'd still be thinking of an Olympics at this stage.

"When London was awarded the 2012 Olympics it was way back in 2005 and I remember thinking: 'What a shame, I would have loved to have tried to compete in a home games'. So I'd never have thought I'd be thinking about competing in the one after that.

"I've got no plans for retirement, but I just take each stage at a time."

Pavey has never won an Olympic medal - her best chance came in Athens in 2004 when she was fifth in the 5,000m.

Pavey finished seventh in the 10,000m at London 2012, putting her as the highest-placed athlete born in a country other than Kenya and Ethiopia, and those powerhouses of distance running will again be favourites in Rio.

Jo Pavey wins 10,000m European title at 40

"It's going to be extremely tough, but when you stand on that start line you always know that anything can happen," Pavey said of her chances.

"I'm definitely not going to put any barriers to my performance, the same as any athlete. You just give it absolutely everything and anything can happen, but it will be tough."

Whatever happens, cheering Pavey on at home will be Gavin, Jacob and Emily - no doubt all keen to be chasing her on their bikes when she returns to Devon after a record-breaking fifth Olympic appearance.

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