Eilidh Child tips rival Perri Shakes-Drayton for gold in Moscow


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The Independent Online

British champions do not necessarily make major waves internationally but that is not the case in the women's 400m hurdles.

The fact the race has been given top billing today as the final event of the three-day Sainsbury's British Championships is testament to the fact that Perri Shakes-Drayton's rivalry with Eilidh Child promises to be a spectacle worthy not just of a British audience but also a global one.

Judging by the form book, the balance is massively in Londoner Shakes-Drayton's favour; she has beaten her rival 13 times so far, Child's one success coming four years ago in Crystal Palace. There is a sense, though, that the Scot could push her close here in Birmingham, and got the early bragging rights with the quickest qualifying time of 55.26sec, half a second quicker than Shakes-Drayton, yesterday.

Yet Shakes-Drayton should, in theory, win the contest, with Child going as far as tipping her as a potential world champion in Moscow next month.

"I value and respect Perri so much, she's one of the best in the world," she said. "To beat her would mean beating one of the best runners in the world.

"She's fourth in the world rankings. So to do that [beat her], I would be delighted. I consider her one of the real challengers for a gold medal."

The pair's immediate goal is taking the top two spots in the final. With the A standard already achieved, that would effectively book their joint passage to Russia.

"Qualifying for the Worlds is the priority, but winning is what you want to do," added Child. "First and foremost, it's about securing that spot."

Shakes-Drayton has been one of the stand-out British athletes this season, having won the European Indoors and European Championships as well as the recent Diamond League event in Birmingham.

The 24-year-old, who agonisingly missed out on a place in the Olympic final by a solitary spot, insisted she was "still building" and that "there's still more to come" in 2013.

Track conditions should equate to a quick time in today's race although Shakes-Drayton said of one of the best current duels in British athletics that her finishing position and not her time was her sole focus in the race.

As for the suggestion by Child that she could win gold in Moscow, Shakes-Drayton said: "It's nice that people have faith in me but I need to make the final first. I take every day as it comes.

"I can't get ahead of myself. The times that I've done in the past won't necessarily get me to the final."