13 July 2020

5 minutes with Jo Pavey

March 14, 2012

Track and field athlete Jo Pavey is very excited about this year’s Olympic Games.

Having been hugely disappointed with her results in Beijing following a bout of food poisoning, she came twelfth in the 10,000m and was unable to start the 5,000m, she has come back now more determined and working harder than ever to make sure that for her, this year counts.

And with this message at the forefront of her mind, Jo is now working alongside the likes of Paula Radcliffe and Perri Shakes-Drayton, as part of Nike’s campaign to all athletes, whether novice or experienced, to step it up this year and #makeitcount.

We grabbed her for five minutes to hear a little more about the campaign and how her preparations were going for London 2012.

Can you tell us a little about the Nike campaign #makeitcount?

We’re just trying to get the word out there to athletes, no matter what level they’re aiming for, to get out there and enjoy their running.

For me, I feel that with it being a home Olympic year I want to make it count by pushing harder than I ever have before, to be the best that I can be.

How can people get involved?

Nike have got a Facebook page that anyone can access and if you log on you can join up and join in with runs that are being set up around the country.

It’s really about encouraging everybody. It’s not just about Olympic athletes it’s about encouraging everyone to get involved by offering increased opportunities in sport.

Which running event are you focusing on this year at the Olympics?

I haven’t made a final decision on what event to target yet. For me, I’m really enjoying the new challenge of a marathon, it’s definitely something that I want to do more of in the future but I’m much more experienced on the track.

Are you taking part in the London Virgin Marathon this year?

No, I’m not doing London this year. I am in the qualifying position for the Olympic marathon already, but obviously there are other girls that are potentially going to run a quick time in London and get the place.

For me personally, I haven’t made a final decision whether to target the marathon race, I’ve only ever done two marathons so it’s still a new thing for me.

What effect would doing the London Marathon have on your training preparations for the Games?

One of the reasons I chose not to run it is because it’s quite close to the actual Games, so if I run in the Olympics I want to make sure that I am as prepared as I can be.

How are preparations going?

They’re going well. I’m just putting in the mileage really. For me it’s hard graft over winter, before I sharpen up.

It’s such an exciting year it makes you want to train harder than ever before but at the same time you have to be careful not get injured.

It’s really important to always go that extra mile but there is also then the added danger of getting injured.

It was a huge disappointment for you falling ill at Beijing and not doing as well as you had hoped, has this added to your determination this year in doing well?

Definitely. I was disappointed with Beijing because I have came fourth in the World Championships the year before, and I had a really good run up to it.

My training sessions had gone better than they had the previous year, but obviously I know it’s about what you do on the day. I got food poisoning problems in the village prior to the event. I knew a lot of athletes did as well, so I didn’t want to sort of make loads of excuses at the time because it’s not popular to do that, but it was really frustrating.

When I ran the 10,000m I just felt awful but I really wanted to finish the race. I was entered into the 5000m as well and I did everything that I could just to make it to the start line, but I just felt too ill to warm up and couldn’t do it.

So it was a lot of work to get into my best ever shape and it was frustrating. But that’s the nature of athletics you never know what’s going to happen. You can be in the shape of your life but you’ve also got to be well on the day. You’ve just got to pick yourself up, keeping plugging away and keep trying.

How much more special is it for you having the Olympics at home this year?

It’s so much more special having a home Olympics, the build-up already is much more evident. In normal Olympic years you don’t really hear that much about it from the media this far in advance, but it’s already been going on for a long time here already.

It’s really exciting, schools have asked us to go in and talk about what sport and the Games means to us and what the whole excitement is like. It’s great to see more kids involved with sport as well.

As an athlete it’s an amazing opportunity, because it’s something that you really want to grab. Not many athletes have the chance to have a home Olympics in their career so it’s a fantastic opportunity.

How much does the home crowd help you?

It really does help; I had a taster of it when I did the London marathon last year. That was fantastic, especially when I found it tough at the end.

And when I did the Sydney Olympics, there was an Australian girl in my qualifying round the crowd was just roaring for her it was amazing. Also their support for Kathy freeman of Australia when she won her gold. It really was immense.

The crowd is always really up for the athlete of their country and it does really help you. It makes you want to dig deeper and perform your best, even more than usual.

This is going to be your fourth Olympics, what experience are you going to bring to this one?

Lots of things really. One of the things for anyone doing the Games is that you have to have trained hard for the day but to make sure you don’t over-cook it.

Also very importantly is not to let the stress get to you once you are in that holding camp with the teams.

You need to find a way of removing the stress of what you’re about to do otherwise you end up in a heap with all the nerves and don’t perform to your best. You’ve got to try and save all your exertion and nerves for the actual day of the competition.

I think that can happen to people who are on good form running up the Olympics because they can feel that pressure. Even though they are fit they may have wound themselves up a bit too much.

I’m just going to try to leave behind any unnecessary worries, stay relaxed and stay happy.

Lizzie Flint, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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