Jo Pavey, 40, wins European Championship 10,000m

Forty-year-old Jo Pavey became the oldest woman ever to claim gold at a European Championships when she won a thrilling 10,000m and got Team GB's campaign in Zurich off to the perfect start.

Pavey, a mother of two who only gave birth to her younger child Emily 11 months ago, ran the perfect tactical race to match the gold won by her old friend Paula Radcliffe in Munich 12 years ago.

When France's Clemence Calvin - 16 years her junior and almost 20 seconds faster this season - went to the front with two laps to go Pavey tucked in behind.

Pavey, 40, 'thrilled' with win

Then, at the bell, the Briton surged into the lead, held Calvin at bay on the back straight and kicked hard again as she came off the top bend to race to her first ever major title.

She becomes the oldest female gold medallist in the championships' history, and having won Commonwealth 5,000m bronze 10 days ago seals a wonderful summer at an age when most athletes are long retired.

Pavey told BBC Sport: "I just can't believe it. I was finding it quite a long way - I was thinking, is this the right event?

"I'm really thrilled. I tried to do a controlled last lap, but when I got to the home straight I thought, just give it all you've got, so you don't regret anything."

The time - 32 minutes 22.39 seconds - was irrelevant, Calvin hanging on for silver and her compatriot Laila Traby taking bronze.

British team captain Goldie Sayers had given a speech on the eve of the championships asking her team-mates a simple question: "How would you perform if this was the last time you would ever compete?"

Jo Pavey - on track for success

Born Jo Davis, 20 September 1973 in Honiton, Devon.

Studied physiotherapy at Bristol University, graduating in 1995.

Married Gavin Pavey in 1995 after the pair met at Exeter Harriers.

Children Jacob and Emily were born in 2009 and 2013.

Honours: European Championships 10,000m: 2014 Gold, 2012 Silver. Commonwealth Games 5,000m: 2014 Bronze, 2006 Silver.

At 40 years 10 months and 23 days old, she surpasses Russia's Irina Khabarova (40 years and 27 days) as the oldest female European champion.

Her room-mate Pavey gave the best possible answer.

The Exeter Harrier has been running for her country for so long that she made her debut in a British vest in the same year her team-mate Morgan Lake was born.

Across four Olympic Games she has secured three top ten places, but this was a glorious finale that few could have predicted.

And on her lap of honour she ran to Emily and four-year-old son Jacob before embracing husband and coach Gavin and her own parents.

Earlier, all three of the British men made it safely through to Wednesday's semi-finals of the 100m, Dwain Chambers winning the second heat in 10.18 secs and James Dasaolu the third, easing up in 10.22 secs, before Harry Aikines-Aryeetey took his in 10.19 secs.

But France's Jimmy Vicaut, the only man in the field to run under 10 seconds this summer, looks the man to beat after an impressive 10.06 secs - the joint third fastest time in the championships' long history.

Dwain Chambers

Dwain Chambers was one of three British sprinters to win their 100m heats in Zurich on Tuesday

World champion Christine Ohuruogu also appears to be coming into some form at the right time, winning her 400m heat in 51.40 secs, while Tiffany Porter is into the 100m hurdles final as the fastest qualifier.

But there was disappointment for Britain's two 800m men, Andrew Osagie and Michael Rimmer, who failed to get through to the semi-finals, 28 years after the famous night when Sebastian Coe, Tom McKean and Steve Cram won European gold, silver and bronze for a British clean sweep.

Jo Pavey

Great Britain's Jo Pavey sprints away from Clemence Calvin of France to win the 10,000m event

Jo Pavey celebrates her win

Pavey was already the fastest over-35 woman in history over 10,000m before her Zurich win

Christine Ohuruogu

Christine Ohuruogu comfortably won her heat in the women's 400m race

Tiffany Porter

Tiffany Porter of Great Britain will be running in the final of the women's 100m hurdles