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Injury derails Shakes' medal bid
Perri Shakes-Drayton's bid for a first global outdoor medal was yet again derailed by injury as bad luck struck in the 400 metres final at the World Championships.
The Londoner, a strong medal contender, was taken for an ultrasound scan on her left knee straight after the race at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.
She finished it in seventh place after a run in which she lost her rhythm entirely, hitting hurdles and abandoning her stride pattern before slowing down at the finish in clear distress.
The 24-year-old revealed she felt the knee complaint after the very first hurdle, but her problems only became evident around the 200m mark.
Her time of 56.25 seconds was more than two seconds down on her semi-final time and more than two-and-a-half seconds slower than her personal best set last month.
Indeed, she has only twice run slower since the start of 2011 and those were both in heats at the UK Championships when she was taking it easy.
She said: "It was going all right until the first hurdle, and after the first hurdle my knee just felt funny.
"It's not the way I would have liked to have finished. It was going so well, leading the heats and the semi.
"But after the first bend I was just going back and back and back. So now I have to go and sort out this knee, but I don't know if I'll actually be in the relay now.
"I don't really know what happened. I was hitting hurdles because of the knee afterwards, but I just don't know. I need to speak to the doctor and to my coach (Chris Zah), but I didn't want it to finish like this.
"It wasn't because of the rounds as I was feeling okay. But these things happen."
It was a bitter case of deja vu for Shakes-Drayton, who missed out on a place in the London 2012 final in her home city last summer after suffering a hamstring problem during the warm-up.
And again fortune deserted her at precisely the wrong time.
Five times this year she has run quicker than the 54.09secs which earned American Dalilah Muhammad the silver.
Scotland's Eilidh Child was the highest placed Briton as she finished fifth in 54.86s, while Czech Zuzanna Hejnova took gold as expected in a world leading 52.83.
Shakes-Drayton managed a brief trackside interview before she was taken for her scan.
Holding a ice pack to the joint, she told BBC Two: "I'm gutted, obviously. I was doing so well and I felt so good."
The 24-year-old is now a doubt for the 4x400m relay, which gets under way on Friday.
Shakes-Drayton was appearing in her first global outdoor final almost 20 years to the day since Gunnell won the world title in Stuttgart.
And she had looked on course for the ideal end to a fantastic year in Russia, having won double gold at the European Indoor Championships in March.
But when it came to the crunch - the "real deal" as she branded it ahead of the championships - it could not have gone worse.
Child, whose own fine form has been overshadowed by her fellow Briton this season, felt for her team-mate.
"I could see she was a little bit distressed and, for anybody that knows Perri, that wasn't her out there," she said. "I knew something was wrong.
"I just went to make sure she was okay because I know she wanted to get on that podium more than anything.
"She is a tough cookie and hopefully she can come back stronger from this."
Child admitted her result was "bittersweet".
She said: "If you had said to me at the start of the championships I would finish fifth I would have taken it, but it wasn't my best race.
"I didn't execute that well and, having seen what got medals, I feel I could have been up there and on the podium."
There were more mixed emotions for Hannah England, the defending silver medallist in the 1500m, as she produced a strong finish but had to settle for fourth place.
The Oxford athlete, whose Olympic hopes were ruined by a freak injury last year when she was spiked in the Achilles tendon, was left to rue not going for it earlier in the race.
A strong finish two years ago in Daegu put her on the podium, but this time she left herself just a little too much to do, finishing in 4:04.98, just 0.12 behind Kenya's Hellen Onsando Obiri.
England said: "Coming fourth in the world is a very good achievement, especially from what happened last year.
"It's hard to watch the other girls get a lap of honour, it's obviously where I want to be."