Perri Shakes-Drayton had been in the form of her life but last night it appeared she had received one of the unluckiest breaks of her life when she appeared to have been squeezed out of tomorrow night's final of the 400m hurdles.
At first it appeared a disqualification would allow the 23-year-old through after she produced a below-par run to finish third in her semi-final. However, the Czech Denisa Rosolova, who was running in the third and last semi-final, was disqualified for running out of her lane but then reinstated and so Shakes-Drayton, the local girl, belatedly had her invite cancelled to the biggest day of her young life, although Team GB were last night appealing against the appeal decision.
Shakes-Drayton's run was well below her best, and a marked downturn in her promising form of the last few weeks. She finished in 55.19sec, well outside her personal best set at Crystal Palace just last month.
From the west stand in the Olympic Stadium it is possible to pick out Victoria Park, where Shakes-Drayton's club is located. She was born in Bow and this is her backyard. "The Olympics are at the end of my road," she says, but now she will not be running in an Olympic final. "I was running kind of blind," said Shakes-Drayton. "They were fast on the other side of me. It's slower than I did yesterday [in the heats]. I am disappointed."
She will be gutted to miss out and with the fact that she failed to rediscover the form she displayed at the London Grand Prix. She looked anxious before the race and did not match the performance of her heat, where she finished in 54.62sec. Her time on the other side of the River Thames was 53.77sec, which would have qualified third-fastest for the final.
Instead she thought she was the last woman there but now she misses out. The other Briton in the field, Eilidh Child, finished 15th fastest of the semi-finalists in 56.03, also well beneath her best.
Conditions inside Shakes-Drayton's backyard were far from ideal, it was blustery and chilly, while the atmosphere was also curiously flat, as if the 80,000 were suffering a collective hangover in the wake of the first two extraordinary nights of the track-and-field programme.
The Russian Natalya Antyukh did maintain her season's form to qualify quickest. Last night she bettered her fast time in the heats, crossing in 53.33sec. The reigning world champion, Lashinda Demus, running inside Shakes-Drayton, was third-quickest in 54.08. The American will run her first Olympic final for eight years.Reuse content