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Jo Pavey says having children helped her reach European athletics summit

Jo Pavey believes her young children have helped rather than hindered her athletics career, giving the 40-year-old a level of contentment which allowed her to win 10,000 metres gold at the European Championships.

Just 10 days after wowing onlookers by winning Commonwealth Games bronze in the 5,000m, she again rolled back the years in Zurich on Monday with an even more breathtaking performance.

Pavey, who turns 41 next month, enthralled those inside the Stadion Letzigrund as she held firm to win gold, becoming the oldest ever female European champion in the process.

That victory was made all the more special by the fact her family were in the stands, including four-year-old son Jacob and 11-month-old Emily - additions that she believes paved the way to her success in Switzerland.

"I just feel really happy, you know?" Pavey said. "I got to a certain age in my career and thought 'what am I doing?'

"It made me start to not enjoy the sport, the fact that I hadn't got any children because ultimately becoming a mum was just such an important thing.

"It's more important than anything and to continue running without that happening. For me, I thought 'it's time to have kids'.

"Now I'm fortunate enough to have two little lovely kids it makes me feel like now I can crack on with my running.

"I feel happy that I'm doing it rather than 'oh, this is really wrong because having a family is the most important thing'.

"Now I've got two lovely children and obviously my husband (and coach Gavin) is really supportive, which enables me to crack on and enjoy it to its full really.

"I feel fortunate that one thing that motivates me is that my running actually gives us more time together as a family as opposed to less because my husband and I are both based at home because of my running.

"I do feel extremely fortunate that's the case because a lot of our friends have got the pressures of going to an office whereas we're just based at home because of running which is a lovely side of it for me."

Becoming a mother has not only changed the way she approaches sport, but also the way she prepares for it.

"I used to make sure I was down the track by 10, whereas now sometimes my morning session ends up being more like midday or one o'clock in the afternoon because it's got to fit round the kids," she said.

"It's not only making sure they're fed and looked after, it's really important - and enjoyable as well - to give them a good childhood."

Pavey looking after them does make it "crazy" ever day for her, with plenty to do even after reading their bedtime stories.

There are emails to read and chores to do, as well as physio from Gavin, before she can finally call it a night around midnight.

"I don't really get a lot of sleep but I'm kind of used to it," Pavey said, laughing.

That was not something she wanted room-mate Goldie Sayers to be moaning about the morning after her 10,000m triumph, though.

Pavey did not get back to the team hotel until 1am and did not want to risk waking her team-mate by having a shower, so chose to sleep in her kit.

"It's sounds really awful doesn't it but I was just being considerate to my room-mate Goldie who is so inspiring," she said.

"She did an amazing team captain's speech to get us all fired up going into the competition. I just didn't want to disturb her beause she's still to compete

"Actually Goldie was really kind. She woke up. I said 'oh no, don't wake up, go back to sleep', but she was absolutely lovely, really enthusiastic."

Sayers goes in the javelin final on Thursday evening, while Pavey's championships are not yet over either.

The Devon athlete is preparing for this weekend's 5,000m final - a race she approaches more in hope than expectation.

"I'll go out there and give it my best," Pavey said. "I'm excited to have another go out there."

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