The last place Jo Pavey expected to see her name this winter was just below Rory McIlroy and Lewis Hamilton as third favourite for tomorrow’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
Yet, at the end of a year which was due to end in quiet retirement but is finishing with a host of award nominations for the athlete now known as ‘super mum’, that is exactly where it lies.
One place above a certain Gareth Bale.
“Beyond my wildest dreams” was Pavey’s verdict.
It is, though, the reward for a summer in which Pavey, at 40 years old and the mother of two, scooped Commonwealth bronze over 5,000 metres in Glasgow before, 10 days later, winning 10,000m gold at the European Championships in Zurich.
She was cheered to glory from the stands by her husband and coach Gavin and children Jacob and Emily, at the time four years and 11 months old respectively. It was, after 17 years of trying, the first major title of her career and made her the oldest female European champion.
“I would love to have achieved a gold years ago, but to be honest I think it was really worth waiting for,” said Pavey, now 41.
“I’ve been trying to get a gold medal for so many years and having my two little children there in the stadium, with my supportive husband and mum and dad as well, it just made it much more special than if I had achieved it when I was younger.
“I’ve been really flattered when people have said it’s inspired them to get fit in their 40s and beyond, juggling their busy lives with kids. I suppose it’s because I’m old, but I don’t mind that.”
Retirement is now the last thing on Pavey’s mind. Qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio is firmly in her plans and the idea of a London swansong at the World Championships the following year is, she admits, “appealing”.