LONDON (Reuters) – Distance runner Jo Pavey will be the first British female track athlete to compete in five Olympics after she was named on Wednesday in an 80-strong squad for Rio along with many of the home heroes from 2012.
They include London gold medalists Jessica Ennis-Hill (heptathlon), Mo Farah (5,000m and 10,000m) and Greg Rutherford (long jump), who all triumphed on so-called “Super Saturday”.
Pavey, 42. European champion in 2014 and a mother of two, will also be the oldest British woman to run at a Games. Javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson competed at six editions.
Pavey achieved the 10,000 meters qualifying time, and fastest by a British woman this year, when she finished fifth at the European championships in Amsterdam last week after finishing sixth at the national trials when struggling with illness.
Britain also held faith with veteran Christine Ohuruogu, who will be heading to her third Games after winning 400m gold in Beijing in 2008 and silver four years ago, over younger rival Anyika Onuora who beat her in Amsterdam but missed selection.
“It’s great to welcome back the household names who lit up London 2012 but I’m also sure the country can look forward to new heroes emerging in the Olympic Stadium in Rio,” said Chef de Mission Mark England.
Athletics team leader Neil Black said there was a blend of experience and new talent, with first-time Olympians such as sprinter Dina Asher-Smith.
“This is the best-prepared and arguably strongest team we have ever selected,” he said.
“We believe the world class level of performances this group can achieve will see us challenging for a number of places on the podium.”
Britain took six medals including four gold in athletics in 2012, after fielding a squad of 77, in their best performance at a Games since the 1980 U.S.-boycotted Moscow Olympics.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Mitch Phillips)