Perri-Shakes Drayton has an excellent 2011 as she picked up a bronze medal in both the 400m hurdles and the 2x400m relay at the World Championships in Barcelona before adding gold to that collection at the World Indoors at the beginning of the year in the relay.
She is looking to increase her medal tally at the Olympic Games this summer and I caught up with her ahead of the Aviva Trials to talk about the shape she is in and how training is going.
- The Aviva Trials are now just around the corner so what kind of form are you in at the moment and how has your winter training gone?
Winter training went well, luckily I flew out to South Africa for three weeks and I got a good block of training there. I even went warm weather training in San Clemente and that went well too.
I have also been doing some 400m hurdles races and I have got the A qualifying standard time already for the 400m hurdles and the 400m flat.
So I am looking forward to the Aviva trials actually but I will be running the 400m hurdles there.
- How much of a relief is it to know that you have already got that time under your belt?
Yeah it takes a lot of pressure off and all I have to do is concentrate on coming in the top two and not have to think about running as fast time as well.
- You are at the Fast Girls Roadshow with Aviva today so what have you been up to?
Well I am going to watch the film later on and I have been hearing some good reviews about it so I am looking forward to it.
- You won a bronze medal at the world championships last summer so what did you take away from the championships as positives as well as things you needed to work on through the winter?
Well I knew that I needed to work more on my speed and my hurdles so there were a couple of things that I did work on during winter training.
- You have said that you are happy with the shape you're in at the moment and you have got the qualifying time already but what sort of performance are you looking for at the Aviva Trials?
I have won the trials for the last three years I think so I would like to get another gold medal for my collection.
- The Olympic Games are now less than forty days away so how excited are you at the prospect of your first Olympics?
It is exciting, very exciting. Who would have ever thought that my first Olympics would be in London?
I am hoping to make it to the final and then hopefully do my best and hope that that would be good enough.
- While have been training hard but have you taken just a second to think about what the games are going to be like and what it’s going to feel like stepping into a packed stadium for the first time?
Yeah I have and I have had a few imaginary thoughts. When they had a test event for athletics I was driving through the area, I was actually dropping my boyfriend off to go and watch because I was not competing, but the crowd that it brought along and I just thought 'this is mad'.
And that was only for athletics, it was the British University Championships, and I was like 'wow the Olympics are going to be worse than this'.
So that really hit home; even thought we have known for so many years that the Games were coming just seeing that crowd it was like 'wow'.
- Obviously all eyes are on British athletes at the moment so how much are you feeling that pressure? And are you feeling the support from the home fans?
I am not really feeling pressure it is more support as I feel that everyone is behind us as a team and it is great that everyone is backing the team because that is what we want. And you really get the feeling that everyone wants us to do well.
- Have you been watching the Olympic flame coverage as no matter where it goes the crowds have just been huge?
Yeah. I was lucky enough to be on a panel to select a few people to represent BMW and the Mini and so a lot of people who get to carry the torch they have some really inspirational stories.
I don't know if you know but I got the chance to read some of these stories and it is nice to see so much attention has been made about the torch.
- The world indoors were obviously hugely successful for you as you were part of the gold medal winning 4x400m relay team so how much has that been a boost for you in Olympic year?
It was good as it was another title to my CV. But I didn't lay it on too much because it was indoors and the Olympics are outdoors so it is a different race and a different environment.
It was good and exciting but obviously we had to go back to the drawing board and work on outdoors.
So it was nice but just because we had success there doesn't mean that we are going to repeat it - it would nice to repeat it but it is easier said than done.
- The relay is always one of the most talked about events at any major Games but the 4x400 squad really seemed to gel together in Istanbul so what do you think you and the team can achieve in the relay this summer?
I think we have got a chance of medalling if I am being honest with you.
- There have been some great performances at the world indoors and the world championships last summer so are Team GB in good spirits ahead of the Games?
Yes I do believe so and I think that there are going to be some undercover performances that are going to come out of the woodwork as well.
- The Olympics are going to be a huge inspiration to kids up and down the country so for anyone what wants to take up athletics what advice would you give them?
Well first of all go to the UKA website and all you have to do it type in your postcode and it will tell your where local club is.
Then just join the club and get involved and take advantage of the experienced coaches there. Whatever opportunity is out there just take it.
- How did you get into the sport yourself?
My primary school teacher told me to join the local club Tower Hamlets and Victoria Park Harriers, which I am still a member of today. So I joined and it really just went from there really.
- You are doing some work with Aviva today and they will be sponsoring the trials so how instrumental have Aviva been in British athletics in recent years?
I would say that Aviva have been very supporting and incredibly generous in terms of money as well.
The places that we have been for warm weather training always have the right facilities and food and the accommodation is always up to scratch. They are a very supportive team and good sponsors to have.
- You will be heading to the holding camp in Portugal just before the Games so how vital do you think it's going to be to get out of the firing line, for want of a better word?
I think it's very important to get away from the distractions that could be there. And to be with the team you will be able to feed of a vibe and remind ourselves that we are there for an Olympic Games and we have a job to do.
- Finally what’s coming up for you after the Aviva Trials with you have some other meets?
Yeah I will be racing at the London Grand Prix in Crystal Palace and I will be doing the 400m hurdles there.
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw