Pandemic puts things in perspective for Olympian Jo Pavey

PUBLISHED: 14:12 03 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:12 03 May 2020

Great Britain's Jo Pavey and Jessica Andrews ahead of the women's 10,000m final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Great Britain's Jo Pavey and Jessica Andrews ahead of the women's 10,000m final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

PA Archive/PA Images

Five-time Olympian Jo Pavey MBE admits she is struggling to talk about sport during the current coronavirus pandemic when so many people are losing their lives.

The mother-of-two was aiming for a sixth Olympic Games later this year in Tokyo, and admits the postponement to 2021 was a disappointment.

But she said the current focus should be on the tremendous work of all NHS staff and key workers, with talk about the future of sport for another time.

“It’s going to be different times ahead but the priority is the health and wellbeing of people,” said Pavey, who is supporting the £MakeThatCall campaign which was devised by Wasps and taken up by other Premiership Rugby teams.

“Competing in sport is not the highest priority. It always feels difficult talking about sport when you hear about the terrible loss of life. It feels inappropriate.”

Pavey urged people to continue exercising in lockdown, to help with their physical and mental health.

She said: “It is so important. It’s about coming up with new and creative ideas around the home such as star jumps or short shuttle runs.

“It’s really important to keep the kids active.”

The £MakeThatCall campaign began as a way of supporting rugby fans during the coronavirus crisis. Players have been calling NHS staff, other key workers and vulnerable people including the elderly. Pavey, an Exeter Chiefs fan, was asked to take part and has been making calls.

The 46-year-old said: “We want to reach out to people struggling in the lockdown, we really need to encourage people to keep in touch.

“It’s really nice to be involved. People’s mental health can suffer if they are not talking. If there is someone alone, please give them a call - it will boost their morale. “

Pressed to discuss her long-distance running future, Pavey said she had been training hard ahead of trials for Tokyo and was still determined to “give it a go” for the rescheduled Olympics in 2021.

But lockdown has meant spending valuable time with her young family.

Her son Jacob and daughter Emily have been camping in the garden of their Devon home and playing lots of board games along with “the occasional bit of Minecraft” plus “struggling with the delights of home-schooling”, said Pavey.

“My daughter has been really creative and my son has come out running with me,” she said.

“There’s been lots of painting. And paint on clothes. It’s meant to come out in the wash - but it doesn’t.”


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