Britain’s number one 400m hurdler, Perri Shakes-Drayton has confirmed that she will use the Aviva London Grand Prix, held in Crystal Palace, as a “dress rehearsal” for this summer’s Olympic Games.
The event takes place in July and is the only two day Samsung Diamond League in the world. It will be the first time that the world’s biggest athletics stars will go head to head in the British capital this year.
For Shakes-Drayton, the Aviva London Grand Prix is the perfect way to prepare for the Games this summer, and she has reigning Olympic champion Melaine Walker, and current World champion Lashinda Demus firmly in her sights.
“The Aviva London Grand Prix is like a mini Olympics, all the big names will be there so it’s the perfect dress rehearsal for the Games in August. It gives me a chance to suss out my rivals and put some plans into practice.
“I’ve been in the world’s top ten for two years now and I want to start challenging best.”
At 23 years old, Shakes-Drayton became Britain’s youngest female athletics World Champion in March, when she secured gold for 4 x 400m team at the World Indoor Championships, in Istanbul.
“My gold medal at the World Indoors has given me a lot of confidence and I’m looking forward to the amazing summer ahead, but it’ll be tough.
“My Olympic dream is to make the final of the 400m hurdles and medal in the 4x400m. I’m feeling in really good shape after the winter, everything has gone well and I feel strong and ready to get out there and compete.”
Shakes-Drayton, originally from Bow in North East London, hopes to use her home advantage at the Aviva London Grand Prix to better last year’s third place finish.
“It’s great competing at Crystal Palace, it feels quite different to other meets because I live just down the road. The crowd really gets into the action and I enjoy competing with lots of local support behind me.”
Ahead of the Aviva London Grand Prix, Shakes-Drayton hopes to secure selection for the British team this summer at the Aviva 2012 Trials.
Having narrowly missed out on a place in Beijing four years ago, Shakes-Drayton is determined to pull on a British vest this summer and hopes to repeat her 2011 Aviva Trials form, when she made history by taking a unique double-gold in the 400m and the 400m hurdles.
But with over 750 athletes set to take part this year, Shakes-Drayton knows the competition will be tough, with only two automatic qualification spots available in each discipline.
“I’m really looking forward to the Olympic Trials this summer. Alexander Stadium is one of my favourite athletics venues.
“I love competing there as I always seem to put in a good performance in front of the Birmingham crowd.
“Last year was amazing when I won the 400m and 400mH but this is a huge year so I’m expecting the crowd to be bigger, and nosier than usual.
“I’ve taken a bit of pressure off myself by getting the A standard for both 400m and the 400m hurdles, but there is a lot of competition from the other girls, especially for relay places, so I just need to focus on crossing the line in the top two and secure my place at the Olympic Games.”
Perri Shakes-Drayton will be in action at the Aviva London Grand Prix on Friday 13 July.
More info: www.uka.org.uk/aviva-series/home/
Lizzie Flint, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine