Friday 23 March 2018

Jo Pavey happier knowing family safe at home than with her in Rio amid Zika risk

Great Britain's Jo Pavey will be competing in Rio
Great Britain's Jo Pavey will be competing in Rio

Jo Pavey has said it will be "tough" not having her family with her as she competes at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but that she will be "happier knowing they're OK" away from the current health risks in Brazil.

The four-time Olympian, 42, admitted that concerns over the Zika virus stopped her from taking her two children and husband Gavin to the Games.

She told Radio Times: "When I was first targeting qualification for Rio, we presumed that if I did qualify we'd all go, but I don't feel happy taking a young family out there, especially with there being a lot of unknowns regarding neurological condition."

Mosquito-borne disease Zika is associated with a birth defect called microcephaly, which results in children being born with abnormally small heads and brain damage.

There has been widespread concern over the Zika virus in the country, which has led to several athletes pulling out of the Olympics.

On February 1 this year the World Health Organisation declared the epidemic, which began in 2015, an international public health emergency.

Team GB's Pavey, who will be the first ever British track athlete to take part in five consecutive Olympics, has also revealed how having children helped her to rediscover her love of running.

She said: "Becoming a mum helped me rediscover the simple passion and love for running I had as a child.

"The happiness it gives me, and the better balance in my life, has psychologically benefited my running immensely."

She admitted that she likes to keep her family life and training as involved as possible, and that they enjoy keeping fit together.

She said: "[My son] Jacob goes on his bike and Emily goes in the running buggy or on the back of Gav's bike."

Pavey previously won the 10,000m at the 2014 European Championships, just 11 months after the birth of her second child, daughter Emily.

She will be taking part in the women's 10,000m race at the Rio Olympics.

:: Read the full interview in this week's issue of Radio Times

Press Association

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