London 2012 Olympics: Plastic Brit debate doens"t faze Shana Cox, says team-mate

Shakes-Drayton defends 'Plastic Brit' Cox and insists Team GB are unfazed by criticism

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UPDATED:

22:31 GMT, 23 March 2012

Perri Shakes-Drayton says teammate Shana Cox was unfazed by the furore over ‘Plastic Brits’ at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul and believes the New York native would deserve a place in Team GB at the Olympics.

The pair combined with Nicola Sanders and Christine Ohuruogu to win gold for Britain in the 4x400m relay in Turkey earlier this month, but the result was overshadowed somewhat by criticism directed at Cox, who only transferred her allegiance to Britain from the United States after failing to make the grade in her homeland.

Brit Special: Perri Shakes-Drayton, Shana Cox, Nicola Sanders and Christine Ohuruogu secured gold in the 4x400m relay at the world indoor championships in Turkey

Brit Special: Perri Shakes-Drayton, Shana Cox, Nicola Sanders and Christine Ohuruogu secured gold in the 4x400m relay at the world indoor championships in Turkey

Yet 23-year-old Shakes-Drayton was emphatic in her support for Cox, who qualifies to run for Britain because both her parents were born here.

‘She didn't let anything bother her and nothing should because we're all the same,’ said Shakes-Drayton, who ran the final leg to secure the gold. ‘We're all Team GB, wearing the British flag. I don't see her as any different really.’

Londoner Shakes-Drayton, whose priority event for the Games is the 400m hurdles, said winning in Istanbul had been a shock.

‘It took me a while to realise we'd come home with a gold medal. It was a surprise for everybody, even ourselves. We didn't think it would be gold, we just wanted a medal.

Priority: Shakes-Drayton is a hurdler by trade

Priority: Shakes-Drayton is a hurdler by trade

‘To get gold was really exciting, the expressions on our faces when you see us in the papers, we were like “Woah!” It was nice.

‘Obviously 400 hurdles is the main thing I'm focussing on but it would nice to be selected as part of the 4×400 relay as well.’

Shakes-Drayton, who has grown up in east London and trains at the Mile End athletics arena in Tower Hamlets, just a couple of miles from the Olympic Stadium, gave a positive verdict on the Team GB kit, which was unveiled on Thursday by designer Stella McCartney.

‘It's groovy,’ she said. ‘That's the thing I've always been looking forward to, seeing the kit and hopefully getting the kit. I've got to say in terms of athletics I think it's the best kit by far.’

Shakes-Drayton said she will wear the rather minimal crop-top uniform, modelled by Jessica Ennis at the launch, when she takes to the track and believes the belt on the presentation tracksuit will prove visually striking.

‘That's a nice little difference, it's got a bow, you've got to wrap it round. It's different and it needs to be, we'll stand out and that's the key thing. We want to stand out.’

Her next step on the road to London 2012 is to head to LA for some training and a few smaller competitions. Shakes-Drayton does get UK Sport funding but such globe-hopping preparations have been helped by the additional money supplied via Team Visa 2012, for which she is an ambassador.

Leading by example: Cox is a native of New York, and thus a Plastic Brit

Leading by example: Cox is a native of New York, and thus a Plastic Brit

She added: ‘Hopefully when I get back and I'm not too jet-lagged I'll be competing in the test event at the Olympic Stadium and I'll do a few Diamond Leagues.’

After that, it’s the Games trials in June and for someone who only lives a few 400m runs away from the Olympic Stadium, Shakes-Drayton wants nothing to do with being ‘so near, yet so far'.

'I've got to make top two.’

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