Perri set to Shakes up Rio 2016

Run­ner fo­cussed on Olympics

Harefield Gazette - - SPORT - by An­drew Law­ton tms-sport@trin­i­tymir­

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.

n PO­TEN­TIAL: Perri Shakes-Dray­ton

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