Perri set to Shakes up Rio 2016
Runner focussed on Olympics
SHE has not competed in three years, but Perri Shakes-Drayton insists she is focussed solely on a medal at Rio 2016.
After tearing her posterior cruciate ligament at the World Athletics Championships in 2013, Brunel University graduate Shakes-Drayton has yet to reemerge on the scene.
But behind closed doors, the 27-year-old, who competed at London 2012, has swapped the 400m hurdles for a flat lap due to her injuries and, after a turbulent few years, has her sights set on the Team GB squad heading to Rio this summer.
Shakes-Drayton knows a good performance at the trials in Birmingham in June is vital to those plans and, if she makes the team, says only a medal will be seen as a success.
“I am looking forward to seeing what potential I can fulfil,” she said.
“It’s nice that I have got another event I can go into. There are not many athletes that say they can’t do one event and then be very good at another, so I am definitely blessed in that way.
“As athletes, medals are what we train for. I’ve experienced a games already and it’s not really about the taking part to be honest with you, it’s the medals that matter.
“It is very nice to be called an Olympian, but it’s even better when you have a medal around your neck.
“To be a medallist at an Olympic Games is a major thing, it’s a life changing thing.
“It would be awesome because I am returning from such a major injury and you think you’re done, so it would be a very good story and hopefully an inspirational one as well.”
A medal of any colour would mark an incredible turnaround for Shakes-Drayton, whose dramatic rise was abruptly halted back in 2013.
But if things do not go to plan, Shakes-Drayton could turn her attention to coaching – she is already a level two athletics coach and has a degree in sport science from Brunel.
University sport is important to Shakes-Drayton as back in 2010 she won BUCS Championships 400m gold, before going on to win a European 400m hurdles bronze medal in Barcelona and also 4x400m bronze.
More than 60 per cent of British Olympic gold medallists since 1992 having participated in BUCS sport, with 56 members of Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics competing for Great Britain at the World University Games – and the importance of these formative years are not lost on Shakes-Drayton.
“Sport is a funny thing. It’s nice to be called a full-time athlete, but it’s also nice to have that backup if anything does happen,” she added.
“When you go to university it’s good that you have a chance to compete against other athletes who are at university.”
“It’s the opportunity of quality competition that you can continue to enjoy, so I do think it is important and I think education is important as well.”
British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for Higher Education (HE) sport in the UK, organising leagues and competitions for more than 150 institutions across 52 different sports. Supported by Deloitte, BUCS offers programmes to athletes from a grass roots level through to Commonwealth and Olympic Games hopefuls www. bucs.org.uk.
n POTENTIAL: Perri Shakes-Drayton