Former Commonwealth Games medallist Jo Pavey believes Birmingham 2022 has served as the perfect inspiration to get the nation active.
More than a million tickets were sold for the Games, with millions more watching at home and Pavey highlighted parkrun as the ideal way to get into sport following the inspirational performances of the home nations’ athletes.
Parkrun is the UK’s biggest mass participation community event, having so far benefitted from over £3.6 million in National Lottery funding, it encourages people of all ages and abilities to walk, jog, run and volunteer at their local events every weekend.
“We’ve had such a brilliant summer of sport with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, but also the Lionesses win, it’s just been so inspiring,” the 2014 European 10,000m champion said.
“And it is a brilliant time to encourage people to get down to their local parkrun, because there have been so many brilliant sporting moments that have encouraged people to think, oh, I want to get out there for myself.
“And parkrun is a brilliant way to do that because it does not matter how quick you run, it is all about taking part, enjoying being active.
“So, we are trying to encourage people that have been inspired by these brilliant moments to get down to their local parkrun this weekend, whether they want to do it with the kids, or whether they want to just challenge themselves, it is just a brilliant thing to do.
“With The National Lottery, it is really the power behind sport in this country, because they’ve invested over £5.7billion into grassroots sport and this really is one of the ways we’re finding these future champions, but more than anything giving people/everyonethe opportunity to enjoy sports.”
The National Lottery have revealed research that shows 80 per cent of parents believe sportspeople have a role to play in inspiring children to get active.
For Pavey, Commonwealth silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson is a fine role model, with the 20-year-old bursting onto the scene in the past year and delivering mature medal-winning performances.
Hodgkinson is 20 years younger than Pavey was when she won her European title just ten months after giving birth to her second child.
And Pavey believes that balancing family life with her athletics unlocked the key to success and can also provide the blueprint for families to get active too.
She added: “It has been amazing to watch her [Hodgkinson] come through, for me my best race was when I was over the age of forty when I won the European in Zurich in 2014.
“I thought I was doing everything right, going on training camps, eating, training, focusing on running, but when I had that family life and being a busy mum, it suited me.
“I found that I could run faster than I thought when I was happy, and juggling everything suited me in a lot of ways.
“We’re talking about sporting role models, but I think the people getting down to their local parkrun, it is also about how you can be a role model yourself.
“Because people getting out, being active when they are a busy parent can actually mean that they can be a role model for their children in showing that they enjoy being active, that’s a positive thing.”
The National Lottery and parkrun have joined forces to encourage people across the UK to take part in their local parkrun this weekend. For more information and to find your local parkrun event, visit www.parkrun.org.uk