Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of Jo Pavey’s victory over 10,000m at the European Championships was the manner in which she focused on the closing 200m of the race: not once did she nervously check the progress of second-placed Clémence Calvin. She was chasing gold of course, and by that time was assured to win it, but the final stretch became more about her performance, her commitment to the sport and finishing a race with nothing left to give.
As the pain that was so clearly etched on her face subsided and race comprehensively won, Pavey became the oldest woman to take gold at a European Championship: "I just can't believe it. I was finding it quite a long way - I was thinking, is this the right event? I'm really thrilled. I tried to do a controlled last lap, but when I got to the home straight I thought, just give it all you've got, so you don't regret anything."
And control it she did. At the close of the penultimate lap, the Exeter runner passed Calvin—16 years her junior—to make an assault in what would be her first ever gold medal at an international event. Approaching the final 400m, it seemed Calvin would close the gap, yet Pavey, called upon one final kick in a measured, determined performance.
Her feat, of course, is all the more impressive considering the fact she gave birth just ten months ago and only stopped breastfeeding in April. Rewind to 2 August at the Commonwealth Games, where Pavey broke the Kenyan dominance over the 5,000m distance to take a thoroughly deserved bronze.
While you would be forgiven for thinking this would be the ideal swansong for a career that began with an English Schools 1500m title in 1988, Pavey is considering the prospect of competing in Rio 2016: "Before this year I thought 'how long will I carry on?' But I've been pleasantly surprised that I've still been able to be competitive. I've definitely got no thoughts of retiring yet, I'm still enjoying it.”