PERRI IS PICTURE PERFECT
PERRI SHAKES-DRAYTON has had more than her fair share of battles over the past few years but in NewcastleGateshead the former hurdler engaged in a much more welcome fight.
It was one that ended in a photo finish as just 0.01 separated the 28-year-old from her fellow Briton Anyika Onuora in the rarely run 500m.
At the end of what has proven to be a superb comeback season, ShakesDrayton clocked 66.69 to Onuora’s 66.70, with Dutch sprinter Lisanne de Witte third in 67.19.
It was during the 2013 world 400m hurdles final that Shakes-Drayton sustained an injury which would change the course of her career. A posterior cruciate ligament tear and cartilage damage to her knee required significant rehab and she returned in 2016 only to be forced to end her season in the same month in which it started.
But this summer, again focused on the 400m flat, Shakes-Drayton formed part of GB’s world silver medalwinning 4x400m squad at the IAAF World Championships in London and says she is now in a good place.
“I’ve never done this event before and I’ve been out for so many years so I’m glad I got the opportunity to run today and I got the win,” she said.
“It means a lot to me. I don’t think I was a favourite but the strength I have came through.”
Onuora has also overcome her own serious challenges to return to top-level athletics and earlier this year she shared her story from being hospitalised with life-threatening malaria to winning Olympic 4x400m bronze 10 months later.
“So close to the win today but I’ll take a PB over 500m!” she later wrote on Twitter. “Same again next year @shakesdrayton?”
While the finish saw a fight between 400m specialists, it was 800m runner Lynsey Sharp who had pushed the pace in the early stages. The race started on the road on the Gateshead Quayside, but as athletes reached the popup track with 150m to go, Shakes-Drayton, Onuora and De Witte began to move past.
Onuora unleashed a powerful surge but tiring towards the end she was caught and had to settle for second.
Last year’s winner Sharp finished fourth in 67.48.
Perri ShakesDrayton: promising comeback from injury continues