Pavey's marathon challenge is just the next step

Pavey's marathon challenge is just the next step
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Running in the London Marathon on Sunday morning, Jo Pavey will be aiming for one of the two automatic qualifying spots on the British team for the IAAF World Championships.

The extraordinary athletics career of Jo Pavey begins its next chapter on Sunday morning – and so much of it is down to the moment she became a European champion.

Now 43, mother-of-two Pavey is the leading British runner time-wise in the London Marathon. Ahead might lie 26.2 miles, but there is reward beyond that, with places up for grabs in the team for this summer’s IAAF World Championships back in the capital.

The fact Pavey is still here, still at the forefront of her sport as one of its most popular names, owes so much to the events in the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich in 2014 when she won her first major gold medal at the age of 40, when her brilliant performance saw her triumph in the 10,000m at the European Athletics Championships.

She had only given birth to daughter Emily a few months earlier, and here she was on the top of the podium.

“At the start of that year,” recalled Pavey this week, “I did not know if I would make the team. It was all about ‘this is my last year and could I make the team one final time?’

“When I won gold, I was so surprised, it made me think ‘Why would I want to retire? I want to carry on’.

“And I got a new name – Jo Pavey40! But it showed me that perhaps I could continue.”

Her victory on that evening in Switzerland in 32:28:39 was a new beginning, because now, nearly three years later, she talks with the enthusiasm of a teenager just setting out on their great sporting journey.

In London on Sunday, she will chase one of the two automatic places up for grabs in the world championship team in what will be a fascinating domestic battle as part of the elite women's race.

The qualifying time is 2:36 and Pavey heads the field with her best of 2:28:24 from 2011, but knowing that the likes of Alyson Dixon (2:29:30), Louise Damen (2:30:00), Charlotte Purdue (2:30:04) and Susan Partridge (2:30:46) will be major threats among a strong British group.

Pavey is excited by the prospect of another great occasion and the key factor is the motivation from her lifestyle.

Her husband Gavin is her coach and when they train, their children, Jacob, 7, and Emily, 3, come with them.

She said: “It is very much a family thing. We go training as a family and my little boy is a great training partner on his bike as he is speeding ahead.”

But whatever happens on Sunday, Pavey is still set to be on the podium in London – receiving a retrospective bronze medal from the 10,000m at the World Championships in Osaka in 2007 after the subsequent disqualification of Turkey’s silver medallist Elvan Abeylegesse after the re-testing of samples.

And Pavey insists this method of catching athletes must never stop.

She said: “Samples need to be able to be saved for as long as it is viable, as you don’t want cheats to ever think they got away with it as it is too late.”