Olympic gold medallist Jason Gardener believes the leadership qualities shown by Perri Shakes-Drayton at the European Team Championships means she is well placed to blow her London 2012 disappointment out of the water this summer.
Shakes-Drayton became one of the poster girls of last year’s Games, however the Londoner didn’t live up to her billing as she failed to reach the 400m hurdles final despite heading to the capital as the second fastest that year.
But the 24-year-old has set about eradicating that from her memory this season and she has already won the European Indoor and European Team Championships title over 400m.
The latter came last weekend in a new personal best time of 50.50 seconds, a feat made all the more impressive considering she had the added duties of captaining Great Britain in Gateshead.
But Shakes-Drayton passed her first captain’s test with flying colours as she led Great Britain to a third-placed finish at the Gateshead International Stadium with a new record points total of 338.
And Gardener, who won 4x100m gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, believes Shakes-Drayton’s ability to lead by example proves she has the mental toughness to bounce back this summer at the World Championships in Moscow.
“Perri perhaps didn’t do quite as we had expected in London, or didn’t quite do what she expected to do but we saw her true character shine out in Gateshead,” said Gardener, speaking at a Lloyds TSB National School Sport Week event in Cardiff.
“She went down there as captain and led by example by winning a demanding and grueling 400m race which is not her favoured event.
“When you are given the honour of captaining your country that is a real special honour and you do have to lead by example. While it was probably quite daunting Perri took it all in her stride and that bodes well for the future.
“It was only a few years ago that she was this newbie, up and coming athlete and no one really knew who she was and now look at her.
“It is easy to forget that she is still young and still has plenty more years ahead of her such is her impact on the sport and the Great British team, which was there for all to see at the weekend.
“Because she has been in the limelight and running world class times the public are expecting so much more from her now and she seems to be having a very mature head on her shoulders.
“And I am really interested in seeing how she progresses going into the World Championships because I feel that if she can get the next two or so years right she can continue to climb the stepping stone and reach that Everest at an Olympics.”
© Sportsbeat 2013