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London Marathon: Jo Pavey targets 2012 Olympics

Venue: Starts from Greenwich Park; finish line in St James' Park Date: Sunday 17 April Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Two, Red Button and BBC Sport website (UK only); live on BBC Radio 5 live and online; text commentary, reports and highlights on BBC Sport website Full coverage details here

Jo Pavey

Pavey prepares for marathon debut

Britain's Jo Pavey has admitted to being nervous ahead of her marathon debut in London this weekend as she targets a place at the 2012 Olympics.

Pavey, 37, is also seeking inspiration from fellow British veteran Helen Clitheroe who last month won gold at the European Indoor Championships.

"It would be a dream for me to run an Olympic marathon, but I'm not complacent about it," said Pavey.

"I was really inspired to see Helen winning after years of trying."

The Devon athlete is realistic enough to know victory may be beyond her this weekend but says she sees fellow 37-year-old Clitheroe as the perfect role model as she targets a marathon place at London 2012.

"Helen is a good friend and I know how hard she's worked for many years," added Pavey.

Weir and Jones on the road to 2012

"She's the same age as me and has also run for years and years. To get to this point and run the best performance of her life after all this time gives me a lot of inspiration.

"Most of us that are doing marathons are around this age and Constantina Dita was 38 when she won the Olympics [in Beijing] so that's always inspiring. I don't feel old yet and my times aren't getting worse yet."

After a troublesome couple of years Pavey knows she faces an uphill battle to qualify for the Olympics, especially given UK Athletics' decision to set a qualifying time of two hours 31 minutes to make it into the team for London 2012.

That time is six minutes faster than the standard released on Friday by the IAAF.

And Pavey knows she will have to compromise between achieving that time on Sunday and trying to be competitive in the race itself.

"I want to strike a balance between being cautious and being competitive," she added.

"In my mind there's a pace I shouldn't go beyond if they go off crazily. Also, having watched previous marathons, people start to come back to athletes who have been more sensible.

"It really depends how hard they go off because I want to do a good performance and not blow it. But I don't want to get to the finish and think 'I could have gone quicker than that'. I think it's going to hurt whatever way I run it and I'm ready for that.

"It would be a dream for me to run an Olympic marathon, but I'm not complacent about it, there's a lot of good talent in Britain. It's not a matter of just scraping the qualifying time, if you do that there will be other athletes that would have run a lot quicker.

"I'd like to think I can run in the 2:20 somethings. It's the best field ever assembled for this race with 13 women able to run quicker than 2:24. It's going to be really difficult, but also a really great opportunity to run a really great time."

A top-quality field has been assembled for the event and in the men's field less than 40 seconds separate the personal bests of the top five athletes in the race, so another close finish could be on the cards.

Olympic champion Samuel Wanjiru was forced to withdraw with a knee injury, preventing the Kenyan from attempting to regain the title he won in 2009.

But he was swiftly replaced in the line-up by three-time winner Martin Lel, who triumphed in London in 2005, 2007 and 2008.

Among Lel's opponents will be defending champion Tsegaye Kebede.

In the women's race, Liliya Shobukhova will be out to retain the title she won 12 months ago.

The Russian's biggest rival could be Germany's Irina Mikitenko, who won the race in 2009.

In the absence of Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi, Britain's hopes in the women's event rest with Pavey, Olympian Liz Yelling, the 2006 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, and Yelling's sister-in-law Hayley Yelling.

Like Pavey, who was sixth in the recent New York City half-marathon, Hayley Yelling is making her debut over the distance.

Andrew Lemoncello will fly the flag for Britain in the men's race, the Scotsman finishing eighth on his debut last year.

FEATURE: Could a marathon ever be run in under two hours?

see also
Athletics on the BBC
21 Apr 11 |  Athletics
London respite for Japan runners
14 Apr 11 |  Athletics
Steve Cram column
14 Apr 11 |  Athletics
Africa's marathon domination
14 Apr 11 |  Athletics
Yamauchi to miss London Marathon
20 Jan 11 |  Athletics
Yelling seeks Olympics contention
31 Dec 10 |  Athletics
Wanjiru to miss London Marathon
11 Apr 11 |  Athletics
London Marathon fields revealed
16 Dec 10 |  Athletics

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