Contrasting fortunes for Euro hopefuls in Birmingham

European Under-23 duo Perri Shakes-Drayton and Leevan Yearwood have warmed up for the championships in Lithuania with contrasting performances in Birmingham

By JONATHAN CLEGG

European Under-23 duo Perri Shakes-Drayton and Leevan Yearwood have warmed up for this week's championships in Lithuania with contrasting performances in Birmingham.

Shakes-Drayton, 20, posted a new personal best in the 400m at the Aviva World Trials and UK Championships to strengthen her claims for a place in the relay squad for the world championships in Berlin next month.

The Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets ace, from Poplar, has already secured a spot in the Great Britain team for the 400m hurdles in Germany after rocketing to the top of this year's senior rankings.


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Now Shakes-Drayton looks certain to earn a double berth in the squad after cutting more than a second off her previous 400m best to finish runner-up to Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu in 51.81secs.

"She's now third in the national rankings behind Christine and Lee McConnell and should definitely be in the relay squad," said coach Chris Zah.

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"If everyone is fit for the world championships, they'll have a pretty good chance of winning a medal."

Yearwood, who also travels to Kaunas for the European Under-23 championships this week, reached the final of the 100m in Birmingham but failed to live up to expectations following a poor start.

The Poplar sprinter finished had emerged as a surprise contender for a world championship berth with a wind-assisted time of 10.10secs at the Bislett Games in Oslo earlier this month.

But the 21-year-old struggled to replicate that display at the Alexander Stadium, finishing seventh in a disappointing 10.52secs as Simeon Williamson stormed to victory over reigning champion Dwain Chambers.

"I didn't execute my races as well as I should have," Yearwood explained. "I struggled with my starts during the whole competition and it cost me in the final.

"It probably helps a little bit with my preparation for Lithuania to be involved in a high-profile meeting like that and I can see what needs to be worked on. I'm still feeling confident."

A third Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets athlete also struggled to live up to expectations in Birmingham as Amanda Ranger finished 11th in the long jump.

The 21-year-old recorded a best mark of 5.61m - more than 30cm short of the season's best leap of 5.95m she posted in the club's Southern League match in Bournemouth in April.

But there was success for Phillips Idowu, who booked his world championship spot with a minimum of fuss after retaining his British triple-jump title with a single leap on Sunday.

The former Raine's Foundation School star produced an opening leap of 17.05m to win the event from Nathan Douglas and continue his low-key approach to Berlin.

"I just wanted to do the bare minimum," Idowu said. "If it took 15.50m to win then I'd be content with that.

"I just had to guarantee my place on the plane, get a win with whatever distance it took."

Idowu was a strong favourite for the Olympic title last year following a series of oustanding displays in the build-up, but the 30-year-old lost out to Portugal's Nelson Evora by 5cm in Beijing.

Yet he is confident of going one better in Germany despite trailing Evora's world-leading leap of 17.66m.

"A little bit of the pressure is off me because I'm not ranked No1 at the moment," he added. "Going into the Olympics I was ranked No1 and unbeaten all year but I'm not this year so I can go out, relax, and do what I do. The best will come out in Berlin.

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