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Perri kicks into gear ahead of Beijing trials

PUBLISHED: 17:20 03 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:25 05 October 2010

PERRI Shakes-Drayton continued her quest to qualify for the summer s Beijing Olympics in Italy last week by smashing her season s best and posting the second fastest time by a British athlete this year. The Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets star travelled

PERRI Shakes-Drayton continued her quest to qualify for the summer's Beijing Olympics in Italy last week by smashing her season's best and posting the second fastest time by a British athlete this year.

The Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets star travelled to Genoa in search of top competition ahead of the Great Britain Olympic trials in Birmingham on July 12-13.

And she responded by cruising to victory in the 400m hurdles in 57.01secs - wiping more than half a second off her best time of the season.

The result is the second fastest time by a British runner this year - behind veteran Tasha Danvers Smith's 55.91secs.

Shakes-Drayton, from Poplar, had previously run 57.69secs at the South of England Championships at Crystal Palace last month - but she easily eclipsed that time against a world-class field at the Crocera Stadium.

The 19-year-old still has some way to go before matching last year's personal best of 56.46secs - but her coach Chris Zah believes she is running into peak form at just the right time.

"It was quite a good standard out there - one of the girls had run 57 dead and [fellow Brit] Sian Scott has run in the 56-second range before - and all she could do was win," said Zah.

"She looks on course to beat her personal best in Birmingham next week and it's just a matter of the pair of us judging it right so that she hits her peak in that race."

Zah believes that his star pupil will go faster at the Alexander Stadium because she has focused on endurance training in recent months - setting a new personal best in the 800m.

Now the pair will focus on upping her speed in a bid to win the Olympic trials outright and guarantee a place in the squad for Beijing.

He said: "I've held her back from doing speed work until now but next week she'll be running faster than ever."

Shakes-Drayton will be joined in Birmingham by Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets team-mates Rikki Fifton (left)

and Leevan Yearwood, who look set to compete for a spot in the 4x100m relay team.

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