Gold for Pavey in Zurich

Jo Pavey crosses the line to win gold in the women's 10,000m final (AP)

Jo Pavey celebrates winning the 10,000m final at the European Championships in Zurich

First published in National Sport News © by

Jo Pavey produced an inspirational performance to become the oldest female European champion by winning 10,000 metres gold in front of her 11-month-old daughter.

Just 10 days ago, the four-time Olympian produced one of the performances of the Commonwealth Games to secure bronze in the 5,000m.

Pavey, who turns 41 next month, returned to the track at Zurich's Stadion Letzigrund on the opening night of the European Championships and went one better than her silver medal from Helsinki two years ago, kicking on down the home straight to secure a remarkable victory.

"I just can't believe it," said Pavey after crossing the line in 32 minutes 22.39 seconds. "I didn't know how well I would be able to recover from the Commonwealths.

"I hoped the 5k at the Commonwealths would be a good sharpener for this as well, but I couldn't be confident going in because it did feel quite a long way. 10,000 is always a long way and at the end of the race you feel quite tired.

"I was trying to tell myself 'everyone is probably feeling tired' so I just dug deep. I am really thrilled. I can't believe it. I am so happy."

Pavey showed little sign of fatigue despite the quick turnaround from Glasgow and will again have to show her powers of recovery as she still plans to compete in the 5,000m, which gets under way on Thursday.

Beaming from ear-to-ear, she spoke of her excitement at getting back out on the track and again racing in front of her friends and family.

"I was really, really chuffed because it is the first time my little girl has seen me run in a major championships, plus my little boy was there," Pavey said of her children Emily and Jacob.

"My husband, mum and dad were there and to be able to see them after the race made it so special.

"It felt so emotional to think my little girl has never watched me before at a major champs. It felt just amazing."

Pavey's podium-topping performance saw her replace Irina Khabarova - part of Russia's triumphant 4x100m relay team in 2006 - as the oldest ever female European gold medallist.

"That's a really nice statistic to have," she said, smiling. "It is quite an honour. I didn't know that would be the case so that is something special, definitely."

Pavey's gold medal was the ideal start to the European Championships for Great Britain, whose athletes set up a potentially medal-laden Wednesday with fine performances in the heats.

As well as star turn Mo Farah going for 10,000m gold, Tiffany Porter has a good chance of taking the 100m hurdles crown after qualifying for the final quickest in a season's best of 12.63secs.

There are also strong British medal hopes in the men's and women's 100m.

Ashleigh Nelson and Desiree Henry both set personal bests in qualifying for the women's semi-finals, while Asha Philip is in with a good chance of a podium finish.

Great Britain won three of the five men's 100m heats, with Dwain Chambers and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey book-ending a promising display from James Dasaolu.

The 26-year-old clocked 9.91s last year and looked capable of going sub-10 in Zurich on Wednesday, easing in at 10.22.

"It was just the heats, you were trying to lose as little energy as possible," Dasaolu said. "I'm just happy to get through."

Elsewhere on the opening day, there were no signs of rustiness from Christine Ohuruogu as the reigning 400m world champion eased through the heats with a season's best of 51.40.

The full complement of men's 400m sprinters and 400m hurdlers safely progressed, although James Wilkinson - 3,000m steeplechase - and triple jumper Julian Reid saw their campaigns ended.

Michael Rimmer and Andrew Osagie failed to make it through the 800m heats, while there were mixed fortunes for the British women.

Commonwealth silver medallist Laura Weightman and Hannah England qualified for the semi-finals - but Laura Muir's recent frustrations continued.

The 21-year-old Scot just missed out on a medal at Glasgow 2014 after being clipped on the home straight and could not make amends in a British vest, struggling in her heat and missing out on a fastest loser spot.

"That's pretty gutting," Muir said. "I knew it was going to be tough but I thought it should be more straightforward."

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