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Perri and Leevan in Olympic auditions

PUBLISHED: 10:55 10 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:26 05 October 2010

By JONATHAN CLEGG FOR athletes used to dealing in fractions of a second, the next six days will seem like an awfully long time. That is how long Great Britain s Olympic hopefuls must wait before the first wave of selections for the Beijing Games are anno

By JONATHAN CLEGG

FOR athletes used to dealing in fractions of a second, the next six days will seem like an awfully long time.

That is how long Great Britain's Olympic hopefuls must wait before the first wave of selections for the Beijing Games are announced by the British Olympic Association next week.

The decisions will make dreams and shatter hopes among the country's top competitors, who have been preparing for this moment for the past four years and whose prospects of making Team GB could hinge on their performances at the National Championships this weekend.

Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets pair Leevan Yearwood and Perri Shakes-Drayton will travel to the Birmingham Alexander Stadium for the event, which doubles as the country's Olympic trials, with genuine hopes of making the team for China.

Yet neither appears overawed by the challenge ahead.

Despite missing the start of the season through injury - and currently nursing a sore quadriceps - Yearwood is confident he can rise to the occasion in the 100m and catch the eye of the selectors.

"I haven't really got into my stride this year because I've had a few injuries, but I feel good and I'm not far away," Yearwood says.

"I reckon I can run pretty quick up there and you've got to be positive. You've got to go in there with a degree of confidence or else you're in trouble."

Shakes-Drayton (inset) lives on the same street as Yearwood in Poplar, and also shares the sprinter's positive approach, despite being a relative newcomer to the pressures of high-level

athletics.

The talented teenager has enjoyed an irresistible rise in the sport since winning the 400m hurdles at the England Schools Championships in a UK record time three years ago, highlighted by a sliver medal at the European Junior championships last summer.

"I suppose I'll be a bit

nervous but I'm just

hoping that the better competition

will help pull me along," says Shakes-Drayton, who has already achieved the Olympic B standard time but remains a second outside the A standard.

"It helps that I don't tend to concentrate on anyone else who is running. When I was younger I used to make that mistake, but you can't let it affect you. I feel good, my training is going well, so what is there to worry about?"

Shakes-Drayton seems to be hitting peak form at just the right time, having posted a season's best of 57.01secs in Italy a fortnight ago - the second fastest time by a British runner this year.

That result is still half a second outside her personal best of 56.46secs but if she matches that in Birmingham, a place in the team for Beijing would appear all but assured.

She will not find out for sure until the team is announced next Wednesday and it is only after she has crossed the finish line that the nerves will really start to jangle.

"I won't have a clue how fast I've gone until I cross the line," she says. "I never know if I'm going really fast when I'm on the track.

"Once it's over, I'll just be keeping my fingers crossed until [the team is announced]. It would mean so much to be in Beijing.


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