Perri Shakes-Drayton desperate to improve for London 2012 Olympics
Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets athlete desperate to make an impact in London
PERRI Shakes-Drayton has vowed to swap the athletics track for the dumbbells this winter as she looks to continue her transformation from London 2012 outsider to realistic medal contender.
When Drayton went to the Beijing Olympics as part of the Olympic Ambition 2012 programme all the talk was of the Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets star just being happy with a spot at a home Games.
However Shakes-Drayton is the first to admit the goalposts have shifted after a breakthrough 2010, including two bronze medals - 400m individual and 4x400m relay - at the European Championships in Barcelona.
The 21-year-old lowered her personal best to 54.18seconds in Spain, enough to make her the sixth fastest woman in the world in 2010.
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And with the World Championships in South Korea top of her agenda next year Shakes-Drayton believes, with some tough sessions in the gym this winter, she is running herself into London 2012 medal contention.
“I am aiming next year to be in the final at the World Championships,” said Shakes-Drayton – speaking at the Aviva and Daily Telegraph School Sport Matters Awards.
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“That’s definitely the goal for next year, I think it would always have been my goal despite what happened this year but now I am feeling really good about it and how I am progressing each year.
“It’s the same for the Olympics, I want to be making the final which is great because I am still a bit young for a hurdler.
“One of the big changes I am going to make over the winter is to make my arms stronger because they are just a bit like chicken fillets at the minute so I need to get them a bit more muscley.
“The arms are what are going to bring you home in a race because obviously your arms control your legs so if they are not doing it then your legs aint going to work.
“So I need to be in the gym a lot over the winter. I don’t enjoy the gym, I much prefer the running so when it is upper body work I don’t enjoy it.
“But you know I have got to take the mentality of looking at what is going to benefit me and I have just got to get on with it.
“I have just got to go through the pain barrier.”
And after her Spanish heroics this summer Shakes-Drayton believes she is finally feeling at home at international athletics’ top table.
“I am getting there in terms of feeling at home among the top athletes in the world now,” added Shakes-Drayton. “Now I am thinking when I race them that I want to see them more often because that is the level I am at.
“Now it is a case of I need to be against the best in the world and racing them and be recognised myself.”
The Aviva and Daily Telegraph School Sport Matters Awards recognise outstanding achievements in school sport across the UK and form part of Aviva’s commitment to give all children the opportunity to get active by 2012 through the Aviva Academy. Go to aviva.co.uk/athletics