Team GB's Jo Pavey reveals she hasn't taken her family to Rio over Zika fears


Jo Pavey has said it will be tough not having her family with her as she competes at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but she is "happier knowing they're okay" away from the current health risks in Brazil.

The four-time Olympian, 42, admitted that concerns over the Zika virus stopped her from taking her two children and husband Gavin to the Games.

She told the Radio Times: "When I was first targeting qualification for Rio, we presumed that if I did qualify we'd all go, but I don't feel happy taking a young family out there, especially with there being a lot of unknowns regarding a neurological condition."

Jo Pavey and her children, Jacob and Emily
Jo Pavey and her children Jacob and Emily keep fit together (Radio Times/PA Images)

Mosquito-borne disease Zika is associated with a birth defect called microcephaly, which results in children being born with abnormally small heads and brain damage.

There has been widespread concern over the Zika virus in Brazil, which has led to several athletes pulling out of the Olympics.

On February 1, the World Health Organisation declared the epidemic, which began in 2015, an international public health emergency.

Jo Pavey
Team GB's Jo Pavey will compete in her fifth consecutive Olympics in Rio (Martin Rickett/PA)

Team GB's Pavey, who will be the first ever British track athlete to take part in five consecutive Olympics, also revealed how having children helped her rediscover her love of running.

She said: "Becoming a mum helped me rediscover the simple passion and love for running I had as a child.

"The happiness it gives me, and the better balance in my life, has psychologically benefited my running immensely."

She said she and her family enjoy keeping fit together.

Radio Times
Radio Times (Radio Times/PA Images)

She said: "[My son] Jacob goes on his bike and Emily goes in the running buggy or on the back of Gav's bike."

Pavey previously won the 10,000m at the 2014 European Championships, just 11 months after the birth of her second child, daughter Emily.

She will be taking part in the women's 10,000m race in Rio.