Former European champion Jo Pavey has backed Eilish McColgan as one of the favourites for Olympic gold at Paris 2024.
McColgan put in a gutsy performance to become Commonwealth champion in the 10,000m in one of the biggest moments of Birmingham 2022.
And five-time Olympian Pavey believes McColgan has what it takes to earn more silverware in two years’ time.
“I think she’s definitely got a good chance the way she is running because what was impressive was the overall time that she ran in the 10,000 of 30:48, it’s such a quick pace,” Pavey explained.
“Yet she still produced the sixty-three last lap, which is really up there with being competitive with the best in the world going forward.
“She did not have such a good World Championship, she was coming off feeling not well, and I think things had not gone brilliantly going into the World Champs compared to how she then was able to pick herself up and perform even better at the Commonwealth Games.
“The way she performed at the Games, bearing in mind she seems to be getting better all the time, the way she produced such an impressive last lap, is showing that she can be up there challenging for medals with the best in the world.”
Pavey was speaking as The National Lottery revealed research that shows that 80% of parents believe that the presence of sporting role models can play a key role in encouraging their children to be more active.
The two-time Commonwealth medallist explained how McColgan’s mum Liz, a double Commonwealth champion in the 10,000m, was an inspiration to her and is excited that the next generation can look up to Eilish in the same way.
She added: “[Liz] was someone who I watched on the TV win World Championships 10,000 in quite tough, hot conditions.
“And she was so gutsy and so determined and I would name her as a massive inspiration to me.
“To see Eilish coming through having the advice of her mum and being able to benefit from her mum’s experience and go on to run even quicker herself it has been a fairytale story really.
“Obviously Eilish is a good example of one of these really positive role models that the younger generation can look up to.”
Pavey, who became the oldest female European champion aged 40 in 2014, cited balancing having children and competing internationally as the reason behind her success.
Since retiring, Pavey continues to run often taking part in parkruns with her two children. Parkrun is the UK’s biggest mass participation community event which encourages people of all ages and abilities to walk, jog, run and volunteer at their local events every weekend.
It has so far benefitted from over £3.6m in National Lottery funding, and Pavey will be heading up to Heaton Park in Manchester to take part in their local event on Saturday.
She said: “I feel honoured to run with the park runners that are there because they are all so inspiring, they have themselves out on Saturday, they are all running around enjoying themselves and enjoying running.
“And when you’ve got people like the Lionesses, you’ve got people like Eilish, Laura Muir, Dina Asher-Smith, Keely Hodgkinson, all these brilliant role models playing a great part and inspiring people to get down to the local parkrun this weekend, I think that’s a brilliant thing.”
The National Lottery and parkrun have joined forces to encourage people across the UK to take part in their local parkrun this weekend. For more information and to find your local parkrun event, visit www.parkrun.org