Battler from Bow is clearing all obstacles

Perri Shakes-Drayton aims to continue her rapid progress at Crystal Palace with 2012 the long-term goal

Perri Shakes-Drayton needs no reminder that the clock is ticking down to 2012. From the end of her street in Bow, she can see the rising bowl of the stadium that will open for London Olympic business 715 days from now. "It is an inspiration, seeing it there on your doorstep," the 21-year-old East Ender said yesterday, before a training session in preparation for the Aviva London Grand Prix which opens at Crystal Palace tomorrow night. "It makes you more determined – having this big global event in your back garden virtually."

That determination was clear to see when the Londoner with the double-barrelled name came off the last barrier in the 400m hurdles final at the European Championships in Barcelona a fortnight ago. Shakes-Drayton blasted her way from fifth to third, snatching the bronze medal behind the peerless Natalya Antyukh of Russia and the Bulgarian Vania Stambolova.

Her time, 54.18sec, was as eye-catching as the fighting spirit that earned her a medal. Only two female British one-lap hurdlers have ever run faster: Sally Gunnell (52.78sec) and Tasha Danvers (53.84sec) – and both won Olympic medals. Gunnell struck gold in Barcelona in 1992 while Danvers was a surprise bronze medallist in Beijing two years ago.

Two years out from the 2012 Games, the long-legged Shakes-Drayton is making strides in the direction of the Olympic podium. Rapid strides. At the start of this season her personal best was 55.26sec, when the European Championships opened it was 54.91sec. That makes her improvement for the summer 1.08sec, and over the course of the championships 0.73sec. She stands sixth in the world rankings, 0.75sec away from a place in the top three.

"It is possible to get there," Shakes-Drayton said, pondering the question of where she would need to be in the global scheme of things to get on the London podium two years from now. "I shouldn't put limits on myself. But all in due time. Chris Zah, my coach, is good at planning. He gets me peaked at the right time and I have faith in him that it will happen each year – that I will keep improving and be among the best world-class girls."

Shakes-Drayton has been guided by Zah since she joined Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets Athletics Club as a 13-year-old long-distance runner. "I used to do cross-country, mini-marathons and the 1500m," she reflected. "Then I dropped down to the 200m and didn't get through to the semi-finals at the English Schools Championships, so Chris said, 'Try out the hurdles'. So we tried that and I've been doing that ever since."

Not on Saturday, though. On the second day of the Crystal Palace meeting, Shakes-Drayton will be testing her speed over the flat 400m rather than taking on Antyukh in the one-lap hurdles. It is a shrewd move on the part of her coach, with the long-term aim of improving her hurdles time. The Russian who won the 400m hurdles in Barcelona in a championship record of 52.92sec happens to be a 49.85sec flat 400m runner; Antyukh won a bronze medal in that event at the Athens Olympics in 2004. Shakes-Drayton's best time for a hurdles-free lap is 51.81sec.

"I've got Allyson Felix in my field on Saturday," she said, referring to the American triple world 200m champion. "I'm hoping I'll get dragged along to a personal best."

Perri Shakes-Drayton is an ambassador for McCain, partner of UK Athletics. Through a £5m five-year sponsorship deal, McCain are encouraging children to become more active. www.mccaintrackandfield.co.uk

Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Back in the suit: There are only so many variations you can spin on the lives or adventures of Peter Parker
filmReview: Almost every sequence and set-up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems familiar from some earlier superhero film
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers