Jo Pavey: If I ruled the world

Caroline Hutton 

At the Rio Olympics, Jo Pavey, then aged 42 and a mother of two young children, became the first British track athlete to compete in five consecutive Olympic Games. She has also written her first book.

I’d promote fitness for the entire family

Jo Pavey and family
Jo Pavey and her family. Image via SBTV

I’d make one day a year International Family Fitness Day and have activities around the world to encourage people to get out and have fun together. I have to fit my training in around my family, so often my son Jacob will get on his bike and my husband Gavin will put our daughter Emily on the back of his—and I’ll run alongside them.

People often ask me how, as a busy mum, I’ve managed to keep fit and motivated, and the answer is that we do it together. 


Phones would be put away in social situations

When I travelled with the team in my 20s, mobile phones weren’t everywhere like they are today. We talked a lot more to each other then, having a banter in the airport or hotel lobby, and it was good to connect to the person next to you.

Nowadays everyone is looking down at their devices and it’s a bit sad. I’m not against social media at all; I just wish we focused on the real world when we’re with real people.


Education for women would be available worldwide

Malala Yousafzai
Pavey's heroine, Malala Yousafzai. Image via Parade

In this country we take our right to an education for granted—I went to university and got a degree and have had many amazing opportunities in my life. But so many women are still fighting for the right to be educated.

[Nobel Prize winner] Malala Yousafzai is one of my heroines and an inspiration to young women around the globe.


Doping in sport would be criminalised

In an ideal world it wouldn’t exist at all, but right now it needs to be a criminal offence. All athletes that cheat by using performance-enhancing drugs take something away from clean athletes; a possible moment on the podium that can never be given back.

I’m still waiting to hear if I’ll be given a Bronze medal from the 2007 World Championships since the athlete who came second was tested positive for prohibited substances. And since I came fourth in the 5,000 metres at the European Championships in 2006, the three runners ahead of me have all been banned.


Eating chocolate would be as healthy as eating an apple

Of course, I have to watch my diet, eating the right things at the right time, but I treat myself to a bit of chocolate every day.

I love it and wish I could have as much of it as I like and that it was just as nutritious as fruit and vegetables. Wouldn’t that be brilliant?


Read the full feature in the October issue of Reader's Digest

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