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Perri looking to shake up the 400m

RISING STAR: Perri Shakes-Drayton outside the Olympic Stadium she hopes to grace in 2012

THE LAST twelve months have been surreal for the talented Perri Shakes-Drayton. The 400m runner has gone from an unknown athlete to a household name in Britain. This is all down to her stunning performances in which she has continually improved and impressed at the same time.

The Voice of Sport asked how she is dealing with her new found fame. “I do not let things get on top of me. I am not big headed,” she said modestly.

The 2010 400m European Championships bronze medalist added: “My hard work is paying off. I am producing at races, I am running more good races and I am adding to my medal collection.”

Shakes-Drayton narrowly missed out on qualification for the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Tasha Danvers. But she has learned from the experience and now fully understands that the Olympics are the greatest show on earth.

“I did not really know how big it was before. I did not watch athletics as a youngster. My family never watched athletics at all. I just thought I have missed out but it was nice to be out there. I managed to see Tasha get her bronze medal.

“Now I know I have got to work hard and hopefully in the future I will be a part of it all. My coach [Christopher Zah] and I have progressed every year. He has been working with me since the age of 13.

Shakes-Drayton recently made history by becoming the first British athlete to win both the 400 metres and 400m hurdles national titles in the same year.

“My coach told me I was going to do the double a few weeks before. I thought ‘well boss, I will try it!’ I have a lot of faith in him and he believes I can go out there and do well and as he predicted I did.”

Shakes-Drayton, who took up athletics when one of her primary school teachers saw her running and urged her to join the local athletics club, had no sporting heroes when she was growing up but was determined to succeed as an athlete nevertheless.

“I did not follow any athletes because I did not follow athletics. I just thought if the British athletes who had success in the past can do it then I can do it too. That is what spurred me on. I want to be a part of that. British athletes in the past have done so well.”

During her interview with the Voice of Sport, Shakes-Drayton simply could not contain her excitement at being interviewed just 100 metres from the Olympic Stadium in Stratford in the heart of east London.


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“It is exciting and lovely. I want to be there. It is nice for my area. I come from east London. I am hoping 2012 can be a good year and we can bring home as many medals as we can.”

Although Shakes-Drayton is looking forward to the Olympics in London next year, she does not think it is the be all and end all for her career.

She admitted: “2012 might not be the time for me. It might be 2016. 2012 could be the one. I think if I make it to the final anything can happen but it does not always happen that way.”

Despite her proven individual ability over 400m flat and hurdles, she recognizes that she is an important member of the Great Britain 4x400m relay squad too.

Shakes-Drayton, who anchored the team to a bronze medal at last year’s European Championships, adds: “We have some strong girls. We have had some good races and I am happy to be part of that relay team.”

However, the Olympics is still a year away, and the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea later this month is the 22-year-old’s immediate priority.

“I just want to make it to the final and anything can happen.”

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