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To age there is no limit…

Following on from our earlier article about Jo Pavey and how age shouldn’t be a barrier to continuing sporting success. In case you haven’t guessed from all the articles since we launched I am a very keen badminton player and am involved with the Badminton England Masters events and county competitions. Badminton is a great sport for everyone to play. Click here to find out more about where to play.

I am 100% Essex born and bred and certainly Essex and proud! I pull on my county top and feel a pride and passion that is hard to describe. Being part of a team is second to none and the feeling of winning as a team is incredible. Over the years I have been very lucky to be part of Essex teams winning National titles and for that I am really grateful.

Each year in January there is an Inter Counties Badminton event which is held at various venues all over the country. Masters ages are from over 40 all the way up to over 70s. Over the weekend 125 county teams participated with over 1200 players from all over the country competing for the various titles. I am glad to say that The Essex over 40 team were crowned National Champions – congratulations to them.

Teams may wear matching kit and as the age groups rise matching elbow and knee supports but still the competition is fierce. Neighbouring counties form friendly rivalries and a great weekend is had both on and off the court. Players who have won medals at the highest level compete on the same court as others and regardless of age the competitiveness is never lost.

So many people dread their next big birthday but so often you hear people in the badminton changing rooms talking about bringing on the next age group and how they are looking forward to that 0 or 5!!!! I am sure this must be the same in all sports but age is but a number and as long as you are able to keep fit, participate and enjoy then make the most of the time you can compete. That team spirit is one to be cherished and I am sure every county has that same passion.

I can remember many years ago being tormented by our opponents about being from Essex and asked if we would wear our white stilettos and dance round our handbags!! I think we did!!! The girls from the Isle of Wight said to us during the teasing – you think you have it bad with white stilettos and handbags we get milking stools and smocks!!!  Banter and how to make friends! Team sports – you can’t beat it!

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Who says you are too old to be an Olympic runner when you are 46?

Who says you are too old to be an Olympic runner when you are 46? Certainly not Jo Pavey who has been a true inspiration to all athletes.

Jo Pavey was born in September 1973 and in her career as a runner she has achieved so much including the following titles: World: 10,000m bronze 2007; European 10,000m: gold 2014, silver 2012. Commonwealth: 5,000m: bronze 2014, silver 2006. In the 2014 European Championships she became the oldest person at 40 to win a gold medal. As if that wasn’t inspirational enough then it was also just 11 months after she had given birth to her second child, a daughter Emily. Jo Pavey was also awarded third place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2014.

It is the Olympic medals that have eluded Jo Pavey. She competed in her first Olympics in Sydney 2000, followed by Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016. She is one of the few Olympicans to have competed in five Olympic Games. However she hasn’t settled for just the five, she is determined to make it to Tokyo for a sixth event in 2020. If she does make it to her sixth Olympics it would match Tessa Sanderson’s record for a British Track and field athlete. 

Listening to interviews with Jo as she is planning her route to Tokyo she talks about how much her children have inspired her to carry on, how much she just loves running and how much she loves being part of the team. She says she sometimes forgets how old she is but that she is determined to try and get a place in the team for the Olympics. 

The thing that struck me is the inspirational way in which she reflects on her age. She says she loves competing with people 20 years younger than her, but jokes that her name Is Jo Pavey followed by her age. We have also fallen into this by mentioning her age!! She is certainly in great shape. Not quite the ten year challenge but these photos of Jo at each of her Olympics show what amazing shape she is in.

Jo is lucky to be trained by her husband and takes her children with her on training runs and to events and says this family time has helped alleviate the stresses associated with running and competing. Listening to her she is such an inspirational person, not just to new mums but to athletes and sports people in general. Who says when you reach a certain age you need to hang your kit up? If the body allows and the love of the sport is there why not give it everything you have. Perhaps we should all take a bit of Jo Pavey’s attitude. We see on so many occasions people dreading the next big birthday, why not embrace our age and all that you have to give.

Banana Crumble wishes Jo all the very best as she tries to qualify for the next World Championships and then to her ultimate goal of Tokyo.

Article written by Amanda Austin 53!!!!!

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