Usain Bolt may have captured the headlines by anchoring the Jamaican team to win the 4×100 metres relay gold medal on the final day of track and field athletics competition at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, but on the same evening, it was a veteran 40 year old athlete who proved that age and experience can still count at this level. English runner Jo Pavey won a bronze medal in the Ladies 5,000 metres final just 10 months after giving birth to a daughter and she is the second person of a similar age to provide inspiration to other potential athletes.
On the previous weekend, Bournemouth runner Steve Way finished 10th and first Englishman in the Commonwealth marathon in a personal best time of 2hrs and 15 minutes. The 40 year old distance runner was a latecomer to athletics having previously enjoyed an unhealthy diet and a lack of exercise. He began running in 2007 and has since produced some very respectable times giving the impression that had he practised the sport at an earlier age, championship medals may have been possible.
Way provides proof that there may be other people with similarly untapped potential for athletics whereas in the case of Jo Pavey, it has been dogged persistence over the years which has yielded much deserved success.
Pavey has never won a recognised gold medal but earned silver at both the 2012 Helsinki European Championships over 10,000 metres and at 5,000 metres during the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. She has been a consistent performer for about 20 years during which time she has become the mother of a son and daughter.
In Glasgow on Saturday evening, Pavey faced a strong field including three Kenyans in the 5,000 metres final and was one of a select few athletes able to run alongside the African athletes as the pace quickened in the later stages.
Nearing the final few laps, Pavey decided to assume the lead to ensure that there was no slowing of the pace. She was overtaken with 600 metres remaining but refused to accept defeat and was once again at the head of affairs at the bell. The Kenyan athletes appeared ominous especially when they swept past Pavey with just 200 metres remaining, but the Devon athlete is renowned for her positive attitude and determination.
Summoning one final effort, Pavey sprinted past Margaret Muriuki but was unable to overhaul Janet Kisa or gold medallist Mercy Cherono, yet her performance endeared her to the watching crowd who appreciated the never-say-die spirit of the veteran athlete.
The displays of both Pavey and Way demonstrated that age should not be a problem in running events and they may have provided the inspiration and impetus for many other athletes aspiring to success on the international stage.
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