Berlin new target for East End's Golden girl

European Under-23 duo Perri Shakes-Drayton and Leevan Yearwood have vowed to build on the success of their medal-winning exploits in Lithuania

By JONATHAN CLEGG

European Under-23 duo Perri Shakes-Drayton and Leevan Yearwood have vowed to build on the success of their medal-winning exploits in Lithuania this week.

Shakes-Drayton stormed to 400m hurdles gold in Kaunas while Yearwood was runner-up to British team-mate Harry Aikines-Aryeetey in the 100m before anchoring Team GB to victory in the sprint relay.

The success of the Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets pair helped Great Britain to a record haul of 18 medals at the championships and joint second place in the overall standings.


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Now the London 2012 hopefuls, from Poplar, are determined to continue their progress in this weekend's London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace.

For Shakes-Drayton, 20, Saturday's race will represent a final outing before the Great Britain squad for the Berlin World Championships is announced next week.

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With two separate times inside the qualifying standard already this summer - including a new personal best of 55.26secs in Kaunas - Shakes-Drayton is almost certain to be selected for the 400m hurdles, while she is also likely to be named in the 4x400m relay squad.

Her inclusion would help make up for the disappointment of missing out on last year's Olympic squad, when Shakes-Drayton was controversially overlooked despite winning the trials ahead of eventual bronze medallist Tasha Danvers.

"To go to Germany would make me so happy - it would mean achieving one of my biggest goals," she said.

"And once I'm there, I just want to do the best I can. I've broken my personal best twice this year - there's no reason why I can't go even faster.

"I'm hoping to run another good time at Crystal Palace and then hopefully I'll be selected for Berlin."

Meanwhile, Yearwood (left) has vowed to come back stronger after narrowly missing out on individual glory in the 100m in Kaunas on Friday.

Yearwood, from Poplar, had to settle for a silver medal after Aikines-Aryeetey led home a British clean sweep in Lithuania.

Aikines-Aryeetey took gold in a season's best 10.15secs, with Yearwood second on 10.26secs - just two hundredths of a second ahead of fellow Briton Ron Pierre in third.

Pierre had led in the opening stages with Yearwood trailing after a poor start - a regular problem this season for the 21-year-old.

But despite storming back to edge ahead of Pierre, Yearwood was unable to catch Aikines-Aryeetey and was forced to settle for silver.

"I'll come back stronger," Yearwood insisted. "I'm happy, but I don't feel like I executed the race as planned."

Chris Zah, who coaches Yearwood and Shakes-Drayton at Mile End Stadium, believes both runners are capable of challenging for honours at the 2012 Olympics in London.

He said: "That's the aim - Perri's still a baby in terms of hurdles. She'll be at her peak in two or three years. And once Leevan gets his start right, he'll be up there with the best in Britain.

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