Athletics: Pavey back from injury for debut at Great North Run

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The Independent Online

Jo Pavey has recovered from a calf injury and declared herself fit to make her half-marathon debut in Sunday's Great North Run. Pavey, suffering slightly from the problem after the World Athletics Final earlier this month, withdrew from the IAAF World Cup meeting in Athens a week-and-a-half ago.

After an excellent track season, the 33-year-old Commonwealth 5,000m silver-medallist had been chosen to represent Team Europe at the four-yearly competition in Athens.

And Pavey said: "It was a precaution more than anything else as I was determined to ensure I was fully fit and prepared for the Great North Run. Quite frankly, the more I think about it, it is going to be daunting - but I'm determined to produce a good run and will definitely be giving it my best shot.

"I'm really looking forward to racing over the longer distances and I've got to start somewhere, even if it is against some of the world's top distance runners. I've actually enjoyed the training - it's been very hard but totally different from getting ready for track races."

Pavey faces an impressive international field including past Great North Run champions Susan Chepkemei of Kenya and Benita Johnson of Australia. However, Berhane Adere - Ethiopia's former world half-marathon champion - is being tipped as favourite to win in what will be her fifth appearance at the meeting.

Pavey said: "It's going to be tough, given they are far more experienced at the longer distances. I'm sure it is easier for them to step down from the marathon distance while for me it has been a case of moving up from 5,000m for my first shot at a half-marathon."

Gavin Pavey, her husband and coach, is convinced her preparations in a new running environment have gone as well as both of them could have hoped. "Yes, it's been something new, but not necessarily trial and error," he said. "We knew when making the decision to run at the Great North, a lot more mileage would be required.

"Obviously during the summer track season it is always much less. But since the European Championships, Jo has done an awful lot of miles... Jo's enjoyed it and now it is a case of hoping she can successfully make the transition to the half-marathon and then to the full marathon."

Kenya's former world 10,000m champion, Sally Barsosio, and Mikie Takanaka, one of Japan's top women at the distance, have been added to the elite field for the world's biggest half- marathon race, which has 50,000 entries.