It is proving to be an amazing year for 41-year old Exeter Harrier, Jo Pavey, with titles, awards and well deserved plaudits in abundance. With most athletes of her age either putting the spikes away or easing their way into the more sedate surroundings of veteran competition, the mother-of-two young children seems to be enjoying the ‘Autumn’ years by continuing to defy women much younger than herself and with far less miles in the bank.

This summer proved particularly fruitful for the ‘Supermum’ as she grabbed both the sporting and general news headlines, becoming a spectacular double medallist at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and then the European Championships in Zurich. From a performance point of view, many would argue that the European gold over 10,000m was the highlight, but given the standard of the opposition in the Commonwealth 5,000m where she split the indomitable Kenyans to claim an amazing bronze medal, that deserves high praise as well.

Athletics fans up and down the country are well aware of Pavey’s abilities and have followed her career for many years and her transition through the distances from 1500m prospect through to the longer distances, including noteworthy results in cross-country and half-marathon events along the way. With that in mind and the admiration that she engenders in those who participate against her and watch her efforts on the tracks, roads and fields of the globe she was rightly honoured by being voted as British Athletics Athlete of the Year earlier this week, no small achievement when you consider the performances recorded by such as double Olympic champion Mo Farah and the rest.

Such as been the impact she has had this year, not just from her prowess on the track but also in managing to juggle motherhood with a hectic training schedule, she has also been shortlisted for tomorrow’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. The stellar list of names she will be ‘competing’ against for the prestigious award places her in an elite group and although she seems destined to come up short when the votes have been counted, just to be included in the shortlist represents a significant achievement in itself. It is likely that the award will go to either Rory McIlroy after his two golfing major wins and significant part in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory over the Americans, or failing that to Formula One title winner Lewis Hamilton.

One thing is for sure though, Pavey will be as graceful in ‘defeat’ as she is in victory and if asked will no doubt praise whoever wins with equal humility. She is a credit to her sport and her admirers will be looking forward to seeing if she can defy the critics (and her ageing bones) by having a successful Olympics in Rio in 2016.
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