MTC, 20 years on the podium

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  • Name: Perri Shakes-Drayton
  • Birth Date: 21/12/1988
  • Born: East London, UK
  • Trains: Mile End, UK
  • Lives: Bow, UK

Perri is one of the most talked about names in world athletics. Having narrowly missed out on making the team for the Beijing Olympics, despite winning the National Championships ahead of eventual Bronze Medallist Tasha Danvers, Perri has been strongly touted as a future Olympic Champion ever since and racing to the European U23 Championship crown the following year added further support to the motion.

A raw talent, Perri went to the European Championships at Barcelona in 2010 and exceeded all expectations claiming a Bronze Medal in the 400m hurdles and anchoring home the Bronze Medal winning Great Britain’s 4 x 400m relay team with an astonishing run of 49.7s, which was faster than all of the specialist 400m runners on the GB team. Skipping the indoor season to complete her degree, Perri began the outdoor season in 2011 by making history as she became the first person to be crowned National 400m and 400m hurdles champion in the same year. With confidence high, she headed to the World Championships in Daegu but after an unlucky draw for the semi-finals saw her line up against the three fastest girls of the year and so missed out on a place in the final by an agonising 0.01 seconds.

2012 got off to the perfect possible start when Perri again impressively anchored home the women’s 4x400m relay team at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, holding off a late surge from 400m specialist Sanya Richards Ross and dip across the line in spectacular fashion to claim the title. A fantastic start to the year continued as she again won the National Championships which cemented her standing as the country’s leading 400m hurdler and was named in squad for Team GB for London 2012. 2 weeks prior to the Olympics, at the Crystal Palace Diamond League, Perri put in a world class performance, destroying a hugely competitive field to register a new PB of 53.77s, the second fastest time in the world that year and the second fastest time ever recorded by a Brit. In high spirits, Perri was again to be on the receiving end of hard luck as she cruelly picked up an injury during the warm-up for her semi-final which hampered her performance and narrowly missed a place in the final of London 2012 after initially qualifying but an appeal against a disqualification from another athlete was successful which resulted in Perri missing out on a place in the final as she had the 9th fastest time.

Not making the final was a blow but Perri bounced back in 2013 in spectacular fashion to claim 2 gold medals at the European Indoor Championships in the 400m and 4x400m relay and also race to her 5th National title and claim a new Championship record in the process. After running a PB of 53.67 at the London Anniversary Games and firmly established as one of the athletes to beat having beaten the Olympic 400mh champion in every race in 2013, Perri headed to Moscow for the IAAF World Championships full of confidence and qualified for the final by winning both her heat and semi-final with two of the fastest times at the event. However, her first senior outdoor final ended in heart-breaking fashion as she suffered knee ligament damage on the first hurdle which dashed her medal hopes and caused her to finish a valiant seventh when looking certain for at least a silver medal.

With the injury suffered from the World Championships keeping her out of the 2014 season, Perri’s rehabilitation is going well and is on course to comeback in the 2015 season where she will look to go one better and be crowned World Champion and then Olympic Champion in 2016. The athletics world is at the very talented feet of the “beast from the east” so it no surprise why she is known for having the biggest smile in athletics.

Away from the track Perri studied for a Sports Science degree at Brunel University and graduated with an Upper Second Class degree.

Perri Shakes-Drayton