Jo Pavey has decided to opt out of competing at this year's World Athletics Championships in Beijing. Instead she will put all her energy and thoughts into qualifying for the Olympics in Rio 2016. Her decision places into sharp focus the sacrifices that many top sportspeople have to make, when faced with choices around looking after a young family.

'Super mum' last summer

41-year-old Pavey was nicknamed 'super mum' after her heroics in both the Commonwealth Games and European Championships last season. She famously medalled in both major events, becoming the oldest female European track champion in history in the process.

Her primary focus (as with many other parents) is her family though. She is devoted to her husband Gavin and her two children, Jacob and Emily, when not forcing her body through the rigours of training for the 5,000m and 10,000m on the track. That challenge becomes no easier as she gets older, with the African athletes continuing to grow in strength and dominance over the longer distance disciplines.

Considered choice

Pavey's decision to sit out the summer highlight in China was a considered one on her part. Her explanation highlights the difficulties of continuation in elite sport when balancing 'normal' life. After spending most of last summer preparing and then racing in the championships in Glasgow and Zurich, she ripped out a big chunk of time from her family life.

Had she travelled to Beijing and then on to Rio the year after, that would be three summers in succession. That to Pavey's mind would have not been "a good balance for my kids."

Age catching up

With age no longer on her side, she also needs to carefully maximise her chances of reaching Rio in top shape. What would effectively be an 'easier' year for her (in a competitive sense) may benefit her in 12 months' time after the rigours of last summer.

In that respect she may be mirroring the 'plan' of Christine Ohuruogu last year. In 2014, the current World and former Olympic 400m champion took a relatively low key approach to her racing schedule. Although she ultimately decided to compete in the individual event in the European Championships in Zurich, it was evident that her training regime had not put her right at her peak. She will hope that the benefit of easing her ageing body through last year will yield fruit for her come Beijing.