She might be disappointed that her Dancing on Ice journey has come to an end, but Perri Shakes-Drayton has taken a number of positives from her experience.

The world 4x400m medallist was voted off the show, in which she had been partnered by Hamish Gaman, in week three on Sunday.

“I am gutted to be going but in the grand scheme of things I am happy and grateful for the opportunity – and that I am still in one piece,” the 29-year-old, who made a comeback in athletics after serious injury in 2013, tells AW.

“Going into it, people said: ‘What is she doing? It’s a big risk’. And it was a big risk but I have come out the other side and learned a new skill, met new people.

“Now I can crack on with athletics again and with whatever other opportunities come my way.”

Shakes-Drayton, who will compete for England at the Commonwealth Games in April, has spent the last few weeks spinning plates to fit everything in.

“Everything fitted around my athletics,” she explains, “except for the weekends when I had to be in the studio. But during the week my coach, Chris (Zah), would make sure that he got everything out of me session wise. The skating came second.”

Asked what she has taken away from the experience, after some careful thought, she says: “I enjoyed every minute of it. It was great fun being with all the other people. I have a lot of memories. Realising that any week I could be going home, I tried not to take it too seriously.

“I wanted to do it well but I was also cautious, knowing that it was very risky. I learned a new skill, and I’m taking away a pair of skates – you never know when they might come in handy!”

Perri Shakes-Drayton
Perri Shakes-Drayton
Having lost three years of her career to that serious knee injury in 2013, Shakes-Drayton now switches all her attention back to athletics and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

“I’m excited,” she says. “I have never been to the Gold Coast. Training is going really well. Even though I was doing the skating I was still reaching my targets. We have to be smart, but Chris knows how to prepare me for a championship so I have left that in his hands and do what he says.”

Originally selected for the 4x400m squad, Shakes-Drayton has now also been named for the individual 400m, something she is delighted about.

“When I got the news, I thought ‘this is awesome’. It was good enough being selected but then to get individual as well was a bonus,” she says. “I didn’t get to run the individual 400m in London 2017. Remember, this is still a comeback for me. Every opportunity to race and to race for your country is a great thing.”

It is impossible not to have great admiration for the way Shakes-Drayton overcame so many setbacks on her comeback before being selected for last year’s IAAF World Championships, almost four years exactly from the date of her last GB vest.

Naturally, she shrugs off the compliment. “That’s just me,” she says. “It’s in my nature. I get knocked down but I still fight on.”

Source: Stuart Weir|| AW