Holding off any retirement plans, the European champion has her eye on a fifth Olympic Games in Rio in 2016
“At the start of 2014 I definitely had in my mind that it would be my final year,” Jo Pavey reveals as she takes the time to chat with the media at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – the location of her last Olympic outing.
But that was before the Exeter athlete claimed her first major title, getting gold over 10,000m in Zurich, as well as a brilliant bronze over 5000m at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and now the 41-year-old is targeting her fifth Olympic Games in Rio next year.
Pavey, who gave birth to her second child, Emily, in September 2013, said: “The weird thing is that when I was coming back from having a baby I thought I would maybe already be retired because I was trying to get in the teams (for Glasgow and Zurich) and if I failed to do that then I would probably already be retired.
“I was trying to make this comeback thinking that I could actually already be retired. So this year, being able to form race plans again is a real bonus.”
Having concentrated on the track in 2014, Pavey is looking forward to combining road racing with track action this year and has recently confirmed her place in May’s Morrisons Great Manchester Run where she’ll go for a hat-trick of victories after winning the event in 2007 and 2008.
“This year I’m really excited about doing a combination of road and track because last year, with coming back from having a baby and being up against time to try and qualify for both championships, that took up all the time and I didn’t really get chance to road race,” explains Pavey, speaking at the launch of the Morrisons Great Newham London Run. “So this year I really want to focus on doing track and road and then I see 2016 to be a really full-on track year because it’s going to be all about trying to qualify for the Olympics.”
On her 2014 success, she adds: “I think I was just really pleased to see that I could still be competitive. I didn’t know whether that would be possible.
“So that gave me hope that I could continue. Then I started to have thoughts about whether I could get in the Olympic team for 2016 and I’m targeting trying to do that but I’m not complacent about it, because you can’t just want to do an Olympics, you’ve got to qualify and there’s a lot of good young girls coming through and obviously I’m getting older and older. I’m not saying I could easily get on the team, it’s just something I would aim to try and do and it just makes it feel that it might be a possibility.”
The four-time Olympian started off with a 12th place finish in the 5000m at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, before improving to fifth in the same event in Athens four years later. She was then 12th in the Beijing 10,000m in 2008 before two seventh place finishes in the 5000m and 10,000m at London 2012.
“The main goal is to try and run in a fifth Olympics but I would also like to try and run some fast times,” Pavey says about her future aims. “It’s just getting around to doing all the different things because sometimes I think I’d like to do another marathon because I’m not happy with my marathon PB but at the same time I’m not saying I could run a quicker marathon because you’ve got to actually go and do it. But whether I’ll get around to it I don’t know, I certainly haven’t got any thoughts of entering one at this stage.”
And when retirement does come? “It’s funny, I always used to think that I’d be organised and I’d have this transition to what I would do after, but in reality you’re just trying to get through each day,” she says.
“I’ll definitely continue to be a runner forever, I’ll never stop running. But I didn’t think I would be in this situation now where I could still be doing the high training volumes, training twice a day and things like that, but luckily with the help of my husband (Gavin, also her coach) it’s very much a team effort and we’ve been able to juggle family life as well as keeping the running going which has been a pleasant surprise.”
» The Morrisons Great Newham London Run takes place on Sunday July 19 and gives you the chance to run on the track and cross the finish line in the Olympic Stadium. See www.greatrun.org