40-Year Old Jo Pavey Makes History, Wins 2014 European 10,000 Title

Pavey finally has European gold and is the oldest European champion in any event in history. She’s also the slowest 10,000 winner (32:22).

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By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

ZÜRICH (12-Aug) — With a 66-second closing lap, 40 year-old Jo Pavey of Great Britain won the women’s 10,000m title at the 21st European Championships here tonight becoming the oldest-ever women’s champion –in any discipline– at these championships.  It mattered not that Pavey, a four-time Olympian and mother of two, clocked the slowest winning time in the history of the meet.  Over a career which has spanned more than two decades, she had finally won her first European title.

“I just can’t believe I’ve come away with a gold at this age,” Pavey told a small group of reporters prior to her press conference at the famed Letzigrund stadium.  “I think it’s taken me a long time to learn the things I’ve had to learn about running.  I think just being more relaxed and being a busy mum has just done me a lot of good, really.”

Great Britain's Jo Pavey celebrates after winning the 10,000m title at the 2014 European Championships in Zürich (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

Great Britain’s Jo Pavey celebrates after winning the 10,000m title at the 2014 European Championships in Zürich (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

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Making Pavey’s achievement even more remarkable is that she also competed in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, winning the bronze medal at 5000m just ten days ago.  She now joins distinguished British compatriots Paula Radcliffe and Yvonne Murray who also won Commonwealth Games and European Championships distance medals in the same year.

Pavey certainly ran more than 10,000 meters in tonight’s race.  With such a slow pace –there were many 80-second laps– the women were bunched up and many got badly spiked, including Germany’s Sabrina Mockenhaupt who was bleeding badly from both legs after the race.

“It was terrible,” Mockenhaupt, who finished sixth, told Race Results Weekly.

Pavey sensed impending trouble, so she decided to run wide to avoid being tripped.

“This was tough,” Pavey explained.  “I always find 10,000 on the track quite tough, and I only realized that I was running wide a lot and I bet people are criticizing; I’m running so wide.  But, I seemed to get stuck in a rut every time I moved in I seemed to get tripped.”

Keeping out of trouble, Pavey let the the slow laps go by peacefully.  Poland’s Karolina Jarzynska was the nominal leader at 5000m (16:26.72), but most of the pack was bunched together, and the race lacked leadership.  Pavey tried to stay patient and kept running wide.

“There were so many runners and it seemed quite dangerous,” she said. “I was just going to end up falling on the floor.”

Two-time TCS New York City Marathon champion Jelena Prokopcuka took up the lead at 7200 meters, but she was running 78-second laps.  Not much happened until 8800 meters when Portugal’s Sara Moreira went to the lead, followed quickly by France’s Clémence Calvin and Laila Traby, and Moreira’s teammate, the defending champion Ana Dulce Félix.  With less than two laps to go, Calvin tried to run away with the race, and Pavey  gave chase, despite running on wobbly legs.

“To be honest, I didn’t necessarily feel that confident; it felt a long way,” Pavey told reporters.  “During the late stages of the race I thinking I don’t feel very good here.  I had to try to remember to myself you do feel like this at the end of a 10-K.  Whatever the pace, it’s quite a long way.”

Calvin managed to get three steps on Pavey, but she bravely fought back, secured the lead, and held off Calvin in the final 200 meters.

“I thought, I’ve just got to go for it and give it all I’ve got,” Pavey recalled.

Pavey, who has a 4:01.79 1500m personal best, showed some of her old speed and crossed the finish line in 32:22.39.  Calvin, who earlier this year had won the European Cup 10,000m, held on for second in 32:23.58.  Traby, a 35 year-old former Moroccan, ran a personal best 32:26.03 to claim third.

Pavey now must recover quickly and get ready for the 5000m.  Thankfully, the preliminary round was eliminated, and she’ll only have to race the final which is scheduled for Saturday night.  She said she’s ready for the quick turnaround.

“I know my legs are going to be sore, but I doubled at the Olympics and the World Champs and stuff before, so I know what that’s like.  I know that, like, tomorrow I’ll probably hardly going to walk.”


10000 m 12 August
1 Jo Pavey GBR 20 Sep 73 32:22.39
2 Clémence Calvin FRA 17 May 90 32:23.58
3 Laila Traby FRA 26 Mar 79 32:26.03 PB
note: position 49 on the 2014 world list (outdoor).
4 Jip Vastenburg NED 21 Mar 94 32:27.37
5 Sara Moreira POR 17 Oct 85 32:30.12
6 Sabrina Mockenhaupt GER 6 Dec 80 32:30.49
7 Volha Mazuronak BLR 14 Apr 89 32:31.15 PB
note: position 57 on the 2014 world list (outdoor).
8 Fionnuala Britton IRL 24 Sep 84 32:32.45 SB
note: position 58 on the 2014 world list (outdoor).
9 Krisztina Papp HUN 17 Dec 82 32:32.62 SB
note: position 59 on the 2014 world list (outdoor).
10 Yelena Nagovitsyna RUS 7 Dec 82 32:33.64
11 Jeļena Prokopčuka LAT 21 Sep 76 32:34.03 SB
note: position 62 on the 2014 world list (outdoor).
12 Dulce Félix POR 23 Oct 82 32:35.90 SB
note: position 63 on the 2014 world list (outdoor).
13 Karolina Jarzyńska POL 6 Sep 81 32:40.98
14 Beth Potter GBR 27 Dec 91 32:53.17
15 Almensch Belete BEL 26 Jul 89 33:03.87
16 Carla Salomé Rocha POR 25 Apr 90 33:05.49
17 Lidia Rodríguez ESP 26 May 86 33:17.39
18 Gema Barrachina ESP 10 Apr 86 33:24.65
19 Katarína Berešová SVK 10 Oct 87 33:28.60
20 Valentina Galimova RUS 11 May 86 33:36.45
21 Zsófia Erdélyi HUN 10 Dec 87 33:41.72
22 Anastasía Karakatsáni GRE 10 Jan 92 33:53.00
23 Lucie Sekanová CZE 5 Aug 89 33:57.29
24 Runa Skrove Falch NOR 23 Jun 90 38:06.59
Sophie Duarte FRA 31 Jul 81 DNF