Devon athlete Jo Pavey sets her sights on a sixth Olympics in Tokyo

  • Report by Claire Manning

Long distance runner Jo Pavey has competed at five Olympics. Six years ago - at the age of 40 - she became the oldest woman ever to win gold at a European Championships.

The athlete and mum from Devon has told ITV News that she has her sights set on making it to the Tokyo Games. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, she is still training hard and aiming to qualify for the Olympics in summer 2021.

Jo won gold in the 10,000m at the 2014 European Championships - 10 months after having her second child. Credit: PA

Jo is 47-years-old but - 21 years after her first appearance at the Sydney Olympics - she wants to give it another go. 

Jo said, "When I look on the internet and see that the people I'll be racing against they're all in brilliant, overseas training camps and have got continual track access."

"I'm not complaining in that, obviously at my age I am a busy mum and I am at a different stage of my life."

Jo has not been able to train on an athletics track because of the lockdown but she still goes out running close to home.

Jo is having to home school her children as well as get 'in shape' for the Tokyo Olympics Credit: Jo Pavey

Jo also has to balance training with home schooling her two children. She says, "It is difficult for everybody at the moment. I don't want to just complain about my situation.

"I am very fortunate. We've got our health and when you see everyone working so hard in the NHS - we're just muddling through like a lot of people."

Most elite athletes would be training on a track but Jo has to settle for the countryside near her Devon home during lockdown. Credit: ITV West Country

Many athletes will have retired long ago but Jo is even thinking about what happens beyond this summer's Olympics - if the games go ahead, of course.

She says, "One of my aims in the real future is to try some of this ultra running, this trail racing because that is getting bigger and more popular and that is another goal I could set myself."

Many people have taken up running during lockdown, with all its physical and mental benefits. ITV News asked Jo for a few words of advice for people new to the sport.

Jo's top tips for beginners

  • It will feel tough at first - I would say is don't feel you have got to run continuously

  • It is very important to go out for your first time and sort of walk and jog so you jog for maybe a couple of minutes, walk for a couple of minutes, jog again

  • Work up to try and do that for 20 to 30 minutes

  • Then work towards running longer and walking less until you gain confidence

  • Don't try to get out and run every day, every other day is totally adequate to begin with

  • Think about not running on tarmac - try to get on softer surfaces on a bit of grass or soft trail

  • Build it up gradually and listen to your body if you've got a few aches and pains then maybe take an extra rest day

  • As you get fitter, you'll get more confidence and you'll enjoy it more

  • Try to get out in beautiful locations - near your house at the moment - as much as you can because running is such a brilliant thing for boosting your physical and mental health

  • Go for it and good luck!

Could Jo inspire you to take up running during lockdown - and beyond? Credit: PA

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