Perri Shakes up the competition ahead of London Olympics

Victoria Park Harriers & Tower Hamlets athlete sets new personal best at Crystal Palace

Victoria Park Harriers & Tower Hamlets athlete Perri Shakes-Drayton went from Olympic hopeful to gold medal contender last weekend at the London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace.

In the last competitive professional athletics event to be held before the London 2012 Olympic Games kick-off next week, the former Bishop Challoner pupil ran a personal best of 53.77 seconds in her 400 metres hurdles final.

On a wet and windy Crystal Palace track, Shakes-Drayton took 0.41 off her previous personal best to lift herself to joint second in the world this year, and second on the all-time British list behind Sally Gunnell.

It was also the first time that the Bow girl had managed to break the 54-second barrier, and what made her run all that more impressive was the fact that she beat the current Olympic and European champions.

Beijing gold medal winner Melaine Walker and the European champion Irina Davydova lagged behind Shakes-Drayton as she powered across the finish line.

However, despite the impressive victory, Shakes-Drayton is taking nothing for granted ahead of the London Games.

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“I’m over the moon,” she said. “I thought it was an opportunity to race against the best girls and I haven’t really had the chance.

“I’ve had niggles and I’ve had to pull out of races as a precaution. I thought today: ‘Come on girl, pull your socks up’ and went for it.

“I had aggression and belief in myself. I had a very good day at the office today and it gives me confidence. I’ve just got to keep going as I’m going.”

“This gives me a lot of confidence but I won’t let it get into my head too much because with my event, anything can happen.

“It was my day but I’m not going to get too ahead of myself.”