Perri Shakes-Drayton has today called time on a glittering athletics career that produced seven major international medals indoor and out from a decade representing Great Britain & Northern Ireland at the highest level.
Shakes-Drayton claimed three world medals, including the indoor 4x400m relay title in 2012, and four European medals, including double indoor gold in 2013, during ten years competing in the British vest on the senior stage.
She made an immediate impression on the senior stage on the track in reaching the 400m hurdles semi-finals on her World Championship debut in Berlin in 2009 – less than a month after winning the European under-23 title over the distance – and also off the track thanks to her infectious personality.
After a junior career that produced European junior silver in the 400m hurdles and a world final, Shakes-Drayton kicked on from her senior world debut in 2009 to win individual bronze and relay silver at the European Championships in Barcelona in 2010.
A ninth-place finish, and relay bronze, followed at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu before she began Olympic year in 2012 with the world indoor 4x400m relay title in Istanbul. Shakes-Drayton would earn selection for the London 2012 Olympic Games in her home city of London and would finish tenth overall in the 400m hurdles.
She kicked on again in 2013 qualifying for her first World Championship final, placing seventh, and running the second quickest 400m hurdles time ever by a Brit, 53.67, that year after an indoor season that saw her claim the 400m and 4x400m European indoor titles in Gothenburg before injury cruelly took her away from the track until June 2016.
Determined to continue her international career, Shakes-Drayton battled back to once again pull on the British vest back at her home track in London at the 2017 World Championships, where she would help the 4x400m quartet to silver, and then earning selection for the World Relays in Yokohama last year.
She said: “There comes a point in an athlete’s life where you’ve got to decide to call it a day. Athletics has given me so many opportunities, I have travelled the world, I’ve met some great people and I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. I am proud of what I achieved and when I look back at the archives and see the races – the excitement I bring to a relay – it does put a smile on my face.
“I have had a tough battle with injuries but I managed to come back in 2017 and get a silver medal in relay at the worlds and that was nice but now I am ready to move on. It has taken me a long time to make this announcement because it is not something easy. I have been in athletics for the majority of my life. I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years and professionally for 11 – it is a big part of me.
“I am good, my body is good and it is not because I am carrying an injury it is just that I got to a point where I was like ‘I am ready to move on’. Big thanks to my coach Chris Zah. He saw the potential in me from the start at a young age and he has been there through the ups and through the downs.
“Big thanks to all of the people I have met and the staff that have worked with me. If it wasn’t for athletics I am sure a lot of things that have happened wouldn’t have happened. I am a proud Olympian and it’s not goodbye, it is see you later because you’ll be sure to see me around.”