Jo Pavey

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Jo Pavey
Jo Pavey, London Marathon 2011 (cropped).jpg
Pavey at the 2011 London Marathon
Medal record
Women's athletics
Representing  Great Britain
European Championships
Gold medal – first place 2014 Zürich 10,000 m
Silver medal – second place 2012 Helsinki 10,000 m
European Cross Country Championships
Bronze medal – third place 2004 Heringsdorf Long race
Representing  England
Commonwealth Games
Silver medal – second place 2006 Melbourne 5000 m
Bronze medal – third place 2014 Glasgow 5000 m

Joanne "Jo" Pavey MBE (née Davis, born 20 September 1973) is a British long-distance runner. She won the 10,000 m gold medal at the 2014 European Championships in Zürich, ten months after giving birth to her second child, to become the oldest female European champion in history at the age of 40 years and 325 days.[1]

Pavey is a four-time Olympian, having represented Great Britain in every Olympic Games from 2000 to 2012. She is also the 2012 European Championship silver medallist in the 10,000 m and a two-time 5000 m medallist at the Commonwealth Games, winning silver in Melbourne 2006 and bronze in Glasgow 2014. At global level, her best results include finishing fourth in the 10,000 m at the 2007 World Championships and fifth in the 5000 m at the 2004 Olympic Games.

In her earlier career she competed in the 1500 metres, 3000 metres and 5000 metres distances. From 2007 onwards, her focus turned to longer distances, ranging from 5000 m to the marathon. She has personal best times of 4:01.79 (1500 m), 8:31.27 (3000 m), 14:39.96 (5000 m), 30:53.20 (10,000 m) and 2:28:24 (marathon). She ranks second behind Paula Radcliffe on the UK all-time list at both 5000 m and 10,000 m.

She is coached by her husband and manager Gavin Pavey.


Early career[edit]

Born in Honiton, Devon, since 1987 Jo Pavey (née Davis) has been a member of Exeter Harriers Athletics Club in Devon, England. In March 1988 she started to be coached by the middle distance coach Tony White.

In July 1988 she won the English Schools 1500 m title in a British record (under 15). Running for Devon, she finished eight places and 13 seconds ahead of Paula Radcliffe, running for Bedfordshire.[2] Pavey then won the AAAs national U15 800 m and 1500 m titles in 1988 and the AAAs national U17 800 & 1500 m titles in 1990.

Pavey made her senior international debut in 1997. After finishing her degree in physiotherapy, she spent the off-season backpacking, which meant an irregular training schedule. Over the course of the season she went from a national ranking of 22nd for the 1500 m to the British national title.[3][4] At the 1997 World Championships in Athens, she reached the semi-finals.

A six time national champion in the women's 5000 m, as of 2014 she is second on the British all-time list for 5000 m with a time of 14 minutes 39.96 seconds and the fastest at 3000 m indoors. She first moved up to the 5000 m in 2000, after coming back from a two-year absence caused by hip and knee injuries.[5] In her first race at the distance she comfortably achieved the Olympic qualifying standard.[6] This meant she was selected for the British team for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Pavey reached the Olympic final, where she improved her personal best by 10 seconds to finish 12th.[7]

Pavey's Olympic performance made her the fourth fastest British woman of all time over 5000 m, and she entered the 2001 season with the aim of rivalling the national record.[8] She spent the winter doing warm weather training in South Africa. Having trained for only half an hour a day during much of the 2000 season due to injury worries, Pavey built up to three hours training a day.[8] However, a shin injury meant she missed the first month of her season.[9] Her first race of the year was the 3,000 m in a meeting at Lausanne, in which she finished seventh.[10] Two weeks later she won the British 5,000 m title, and in doing so gained selection for the World Championships in Edmonton.[11] A meeting at Crystal Palace served as preparation for the World Championships, but Pavey finished well down the field, 31 seconds behind victor Paula Radcliffe.[12]

The women's 5,000 m at the Edmonton championships featured a controversy over the participation of Olga Yegorova, who had tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO), but had her suspension overturned. Several athletes, including the British team, discussed whether to boycott the event, but decided against it.[13] Pavey wore a red ribbon while competing, as part of Paula Radcliffe's campaign for the introduction of mandatory blood testing. Speaking about the issue after her heat, in which she finished second, Pavey said "We all wore the red ribbons because we are in favour of blood tests for EPO. I don't want to line up against a cheat. It's not a level playing field out there and we just want it to be clean."[14] Pavey finished 11th in the final, which was won by Yegorova.[15]

After another winter of warm weather training in South Africa,[16] Pavey started the 2002 season with a 3,000 m performance which was at the time the fastest in the world that year.[17] Pavey missed the trials for the Commonwealth Games due to a virus.[18] She returned in the European Cup, where she finished second to Olga Yegorova in the 5,000 m.[19] In the national championships, Pavey entered the 1,500 m to work on her speed ahead of the Commonwealth Games, and finished fourth.[20]

On the eve of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, Pavey had a bacterial infection that caused her face to swell, but recovered in time to compete.[21] In the race she held bronze medal position with 600 m to go, but tied up severely and finished fifth. She required assistance to leave the track, and did not leave the stadium for another three hours as she received medical attention.[22] Her condition was later attributed to a magnesium deficiency.[23] A Golden League meeting at the end of August brought a new 3,000 m personal best of 8:31.27.[24] In the next Golden League meeting a week later, Pavey gained a new 5,000 m personal best of 14:48.66.[25]

For the first time in her senior career, in 2003 Pavey started the season by running cross country races.[26] As part of the Great Britain team in the 2003 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, she finished 40th. As the track season started, Pavey won the 3000 m at a meeting in Lille,[27] and posted her two fastest 1500 m times. This prompted her to focus on the shorter distance at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, six years after last running 1500 m at a major championships.[28][29] Pavey surpassed her 1997 performance by reaching the final. She was second with one lap remaining, but faded and finished tenth.[30] As an athlete ranked in the top 12 in the world, Pavey was invited to compete in the IAAF World Athletics Final in Monaco.[31] She finished fourth in the 1500 m in a personal best 4:01.79,[32] and the following day finished third in the 3000 m.[33] In November Pavey achieved the first major cross country win of her career at the trials to determine the British team for the European Cross Country Championships.[34] However, illness meant she had to withdraw from the championships.[35]

Jo Pavey set the national record for 3000 m indoors in February 2004 in Birmingham, England and broke her own record in January 2007 in Stuttgart, Germany with a time of 8:31.50. The year of 2004 was a vintage year during which she won a European Bronze medal in the European Cross Country Championships, a fifth place over 5000 m in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and a national indoor record over 3000 m. In 2005 and 2006 she was Europe's fastest 5000 m runner. She has won the National Championships at 5000 m on six occasions (2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012) and in 2007 and 2008 she won both the 5000 m and the 10,000 m. In 2010 she added a third 10000m title. Her first UK national title came at 1500m in 1997 giving a fifteen-year span between her first senior title and her 5000m victory in 2012.

She has doubled up at various championships including a ninth place in the 5000 m following her fourth place in the 10,000 m in the 2007 World Championships in Athletics. However, in the 2004 Olympic Games she ran a 5000 m semi-final at midnight and then a late-night 5000 m final (fifth place) and followed this punishing schedule by attempting to run the 1500 m heats the following day. She did not progress beyond the 1500 m heats.

During 2003 she finished fourth in the 1500 m with a 4:01.79 clocking and third in the 3000 m with a time of 8:37.89 at the World Athletics Final in Monaco. In cup events she has won two European Cup titles and representing Europe she was third in the 2002 IAAF World Cup over 5000 m.

Track and road running[edit]

Most of her career has been as a track runner but since 2006 she has been making a gradual move to road running. After illness ruled her out of the 5000 m and led to a disappointing twelfth place in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, she immediately announced her intentions of continuing her career until 2012 and a potential move up in distance to the marathon. Her road running career major race wins have included the Great South Run (2006, 2012) and the Great Manchester Run (2007, 2008). She also finished 3rd (winner Gete Wami, Ethiopia) in the Great North Run (2008) in the closest finishes the event has seen with two seconds covering the first three athletes.

She finished fourth in the 10000 m at the 2007 World Championships in Athletics, behind Tirunesh Dibaba. She qualified to compete in the 5000 m and 10000 m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Due to illness she did not start in the 5000 m but finished twelfth in the 10000 m event, with a time of 31:12.30.[36]

At the beginning of the 2009 athletics season, Pavey revealed that she was pregnant and, as a result, she would miss both the 2009 London Marathon and 2009 World Championships.[37] In September 2009, Jo and her husband Gavin Pavey, had their first child, Jacob Matthew Pavey. He arrived nine days ahead of the original birth date, weighing 5 lb 9oz.[38]

She returned to competition in April 2010, finishing second to Freya Murray at the Great Ireland Run, but she was not disappointed and said she was very pleased with a strong return race after her year out.[39] Her marathon debut at the Virgin London Marathon in April led to a 2:28:23 Olympic A standard. She then ran in the ING New York City Marathon finishing in a time of 2:28:42, which given the hilly nature of the race represented a significant improvement on her London time. Pavey sustained stress fractures in both the summer of 2010 and 2011. She was not selected for the British marathon team after missing the 2012 London Marathon, but came second at the European Cup 10000m in June and her time of 31:32.22 minutes was within the qualifying standard.[40]

Pavey (second left) lining up for the 2012 Olympic 5000 metres race

Pavey also ran an Olympic Games A standard for 5000m at the British Milers Club meeting in Manchester, England and a further 5000m A standard at Rome's Golden Gala Diamond League meeting. Just three days after competing in Rome she ran the 10000m A standard in the European Cup. After winning the UK Championships and Olympic Trials at 5000m she qualified for her fourth Olympic Games at the age of 38 years. Pavey is the only female athlete in the modern era to have competed over 1500m, 5000m and 10000m at an Olympic Games and World Championships.

At the 2012 European Championships in Helsinki Pavey won a silver medal in the 10000m in a time of 31:49.03.

Pavey finished seventh in both the 5000m and 10000m at the London 2012 Olympic Games. She was the first European in both races with the top six places in the 5000m all going to Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes. Her time of 30:53.20 in the 10000m is not only the second fastest ever by a British athlete but also the second fastest time in history by an over 35-year-old behind Kenya's Edith Masai. Masai's time has not been ratified by World Masters Athletics, who currently lists Pavey as the world record holder.[41] Pavey was Europe's fastest 10000m runner in 2012. Pavey won the 2012 Great South Run in a time of 53:01 to reclaim the title she won for the first time six years ago.[42]

Her bronze medal time, behind a pair of young Kenyans, at the 2014 Commonwealth Games of 15:08.96 bettered the listed W40 World Record by almost 12 seconds, however Pavey ran an even better time of 15:04.87 at the Golden Gala two months earlier.[43]

Ten days after the Commonwealth Games, Pavey won her first major championship, the 10,000 meters at the European Championships, just a little more than a month before turning 41, becoming the oldest female to win a gold medal in the history of the championships, more than three years older than the previous holder of the distinction (Lyubov Gurina, age 37 in 1994). Only 1950 British Marathoner Jack Holden was an older gold medalist.[44][45]

After the 2014 season Pavey received various awards. She finished in third place in the 2014 BBC Sports Personality of the Year and was named British Sports Women of the Year at the SJA Awards. Other awards included British Athletics British Athlete of the Year, British Athletics Writers Association British Female Athlete of the Year, British Athletics Supporters Club British Athlete of the Year and various other national and regional awards. She was also honoured with the Freedom of the City of Exeter.


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  England
2002 Commonwealth Games Manchester, England 5th 5000 m 15:19.91
2006 Commonwealth Games Melbourne 2nd 5000 m 14:59.08
2014 Commonwealth Games Glasgow, Scotland 3rd 5000 m 15:08.96
Representing  Great Britain
1997 World Championships Athens, Greece semi-final 1500 m 4:11.22
2000 Olympic Games Sydney 12th 5000 m 14:58.27
2001 World Championships Edmonton, Canada 11th 5000 m 15:28.41
2002 European Championships Munich, Germany 5th 5000 m 15:18.70
World Cup Madrid, Spain 3rd 5000 m 15:20.10
2003 World Athletics Final Monaco 3rd 1500 m 4:01.79
2003 World Championships Paris, France 10th 1500 m 4:03.03
2004 Olympic Games Athens, Greece heats 1500 m 4:12.50
5th 5000 m 14:57.87
European Cross Country Championships Heringsdorf, Germany 3rd 5.6 km
2006 European Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 4th 5000 m 15:01.41
European Cup Malaga, Spain 1st 3000m 8:52.54
2007 World Championships Osaka, Japan 4th 10,000 m 32:03.81
2008 Olympic Games Beijing, China 12th 10,000 m 31:12.30
2012 European Championships Helsinki, Finland 2nd 10,000 m 31:49.03
Olympic Games London, England 7th 5000 m 15:12.72
7th 10,000 m 30:53.20
2014 European Championships Zurich, Switzerland 7th 5,000 m 15:38.41
1st 10,000 m 32:22.39
2014 Continental Cup Marrakech, Morocco 3rd 5000 m 15:58.67

Other events[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Jo Pavey (née Davis) started running at the King's School, Ottery St Mary, where teachers encouraged her to join an athletics club. She joined Exeter Harriers in 1987, where an early coach was Tony White. In 2000 she was coached by Christina Boxer, the 1982 Commonwealth Games 1500m champion.[46] Jo was first coached by her husband and manager Gavin Pavey in 1996/97 and he resumed the coaching role in 2001. He has coached her to finals at all the major championships. Jo made the final at every major outdoors championships between 2000 and 2008 before child birth in 2009.

Pavey studied physiotherapy at Bristol University,[47] graduating in 1995.

She married Gavin Pavey in 1995, whom she met at Exeter Harriers in 1988.[48] They have a son Jacob (born in 2009) and daughter Emily (born in 2013).[49]

A personal trademark is that she always runs wearing long white compression socks.[50]


  1. ^ "PAVEY THE GOLDEN GIRL OF THE EUROPEAN CHAMPS". SBS. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Independent article 4 November 2011
  3. ^ David Powell (21 July 1997). "Pavey emerges to take world by storm". The Times. 
  4. ^ David Powell (14 July 1997). "Thomas becomes fastest Briton over 400 metres". The Times. 
  5. ^ "Pavey will push it all the way". Bristol Evening Post. 14 September 2000. 
  6. ^ Simon Turnbull (6 August 2000). "Misery for Merry and Freeman – Countdown to Sydney 2000: Woe for women's one-lap wonders but Radcliffe puts in promising performance". Independent on Sunday. 
  7. ^ "O'Sullivan loses out to gift of the Gab". Daily Record. 26 September 2000. 
  8. ^ a b "Pavey targets place in records". Western Morning News. 25 May 2001. 
  9. ^ "Scouting mission for Pavey". Western Morning News. 3 July 2001. 
  10. ^ Duncan Mackay (5 July 2001). "Limping Greene still too fast". The Guardian. 
  11. ^ "Richardson marks comeback with third AAA title". The Scotsman. 16 July 2001. 
  12. ^ "Pavey outshone". Western Morning News. 23 July 2001. 
  13. ^ Duncan Mackay (7 August 2001). "Second test could mean new ban for Yegorova". The Guardian. 
  14. ^ Duncan Mackay (11 August 2001). "Radcliffe leads field in drug protest". The Guardian. 
  15. ^ Tom Knight (13 August 2001). "Yegorova defiant after race of shame". Daily Telegraph. 
  16. ^ "Pavey ready for season's challenge". Western Morning News. 17 May 2002. 
  17. ^ Richard Lewis (19 May 2002). "Lewis-Francis runs into form in quick time". The Sunday Times. 
  18. ^ Kevin Fahey (21 June 2002). "Pavey out to grab valuable points for Britain". Bristol Evening Post. 
  19. ^ David Martin (24 June 2002). "True Brit grit vital to secure final". Birmingham Post. 
  20. ^ Kevin Fahey (16 July 2002). "Woodman finds a silver lining". Bristol Evening Post. 
  21. ^ Kevin Fahey (27 July 2002). "I almost quit the Games, says Jo". Bristol Evening Post. 
  22. ^ Kevin Fahey (29 July 2002). "Pavey's agony". Bristol Evening Post. 
  23. ^ Kevin Fahey (8 August 2002). "Pavey's ready to run". Bristol Evening Post. 
  24. ^ David Martin (31 August 2002). "Kipketer denies rivals in Golden League scorcher". Birmingham Post. 
  25. ^ David Martin (7 September 2002). "Burger-powered Chambers leaves Greene gasping". Independent. 
  26. ^ "Pavey ready for a new challenge". Western Daily Press. 28 March 2003. 
  27. ^ Mike Rowbottom (16 June 2003). "British hopes boosted after Lewis and Merry return in style". Independent. 
  28. ^ "I'm ready to gamble on 1500m says super Pavey". Western Daily Press. 12 August 2003. 
  29. ^ "Jo considers a 1,500m gamble". Bristol Evening Post. 1 August 2003. 
  30. ^ Stuart Bathgate (1 September 2003). "Bittersweet finale for Britain". The Scotsman. 
  31. ^ "Pavey chases a bumper pay-day". Western Daily Press. 12 September 2003. 
  32. ^ "World Athletics Final: Chambers lags behind in fourth again". Observer. 14 September 2003. 
  33. ^ Duncan Mackay (16 September 2003). "Holmes applies finishing kick to the Paris doubters". Observer. 
  34. ^ Mike Dooling (24 November 2003). "European trials bring out best in quality field". Liverpool Echo. 
  35. ^ Stuart Bathgate (9 December 2003). "GB turn to Tullett after Pavey call-off". The Scotsman. 
  36. ^ Phillips, Michael (16 August 2008). Olympics: Dibaba's pace leaves Pavey dismayed with best 10,000m. The Guardian. Retrieved on 17 March 2009.
  37. ^ Pregnant Pavey set to miss London. BBC Sport (17 March 2009). Retrieved on 17 March 2009.
  38. ^ "Feniton Olympic athlete Jo Pavey has baby - This Is Exeter - Exeter Express and Echo". Exeter Express and Echo. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  39. ^ Returning Jo Pavey delighted with second place finish in Great Ireland run. The Daily Mail (19 April 2010). Retrieved on 24 April 2010.
  40. ^ Ramsak, Bob (4 June 2012). Moreira and Kemboi Arikan take the European Cup 10,000m titles. IAAF. Retrieved on 10 June 2012.
  41. ^ Lukas. "Records Outdoor Women". Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  42. ^ "Jo Pavey rolls back the years with victory in Portsmouth's Great South Run". The Daily Telegraph. 28 October 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  43. ^ [1][dead link]
  44. ^ [2][dead link]
  45. ^ürich2014_Neutral.pdf
  46. ^ Spikes Magazine
  47. ^ London 2012 profile
  48. ^ Exeter Harriers website
  49. ^ The Metro
  50. ^ "Keep up your running regime with Jo Pavey's top tips". Retrieved 2 September 2012. [dead link]

External links[edit]