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Donna Fraser 1
Fraser ran the first leg for the silver medal winning womens 4 x 400m relay in Turin

15 April 2009

Donna Fraser plans to end her athletics career at the close of the 2009 summer season and hopes she might get the chance to say a final farewell to the British crowd at the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace, her local athletics track.

The 36 year old Croydon Harrier said: “I would love to compete at Palace, it will be a perfect and definite last goodbye but I have to get a lane first. I’m from Croydon so competing at the track in front of a home crowd one last time would be special.”

Competing as an elite athlete for Great Britain and Northern Ireland for over a decade, she had intended retirement following the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games after a tough couple of years.

“In 2007/2008 my involvement in the sport wasn’t right. I would line up at a competition and think ‘Why am I here?’ It was dull, the routine, the training, I just wasn’t enjoying it at all. The World Championships in Osaka in 2007 was a real low point, I didn’t compete individually or in the final of the relay.

“Before Beijing I thought ‘Here we go again’ I kept comparing my season to Sydney 2000 (where she famously placed fourth behind gold medallist Cathy Freeman). But you can’t do that. It wasn’t nice.” 

On returning to the UK from Beijing she deliberately took a more relaxed approach to the sport and as a consequence found a new spirit for athletics as she continued training with coach Ayo Afola at the UKA North London High Performance Centre, Lee Valley.

“My athletics career has gone full circle in the past few years, my attitude and frame of mind has totally changed. I started enjoying it again.” She said.

After falling back in love with athletics during the winter of 2008/09, she defied the unwritten athletics laws that says long legs cannot compete on indoor tracks. She competing successfully over 200m and 400m – where she became double UK champion  - and even earned an deserved GB & NI vest at the European Indoor Championships in Italy in March, resulting in a 4x400m bronze.

She said: “I sat down with Ayo after the relay at the European Indoors in Turin. After the indoors I knew I wanted to carry on but I had planned to go full time at work (EDF Energy) from April so I had to see if it was feasible for me to training in the evenings with the group, he said yes and so we started planning.”

“I will retire at the end of the summer season but I’m taking each day as it comes, I have no expectations which lessens the disappointment. It’s a bonus that I’m competing and I’m looking forward to it.”