Fraser aiming for Olympics
DONNA Fraser will roll back the years this weekend in an unlikely – but relaxed – attempt to reach her fifth Olympic Games.
Having retired from the international scene in 2009, the 39-year-old has turned out for Croydon Harriers in club meetings when she can, since.
But the 400m runner, fourth in the Sydney Olympic final behind Great Britain's bronze-winning Katharine Merry, got the bug again after pacing the 800m group she now helps to train.
And while she is finding the lack of pressure refreshing, she admits that if the Games were not in London, she would not be trying to reach them at all.
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The Croydon sprinter is among the borough's contingent heading to the UK Championships, which double as the Olympic trials, this weekend.
The 400m will be just semi-finals and a final and she will be up against competitors 22 years younger, such as Blackheath & Bromley's Rachel Dickens.
"It's quite bizarre," she reasoned as she explained the route to her comeback, "because I always promised I would run for the club after I retired.
"Then my old training group asked me to go warm weather training."
That was in Los Angeles, helping 800m runner Marilyn Okoro and others by pacing them to 600m – but her comeback almost stalled before it ever began.
"Training went quite well, I did a 100m out there," she said "and then a 200m and pulled my hamstring."
While she suffered many muscular set-backs in her time, hamstring was never one of them – and without access to the UK Athletics medical staff she used to have, any thoughts of a comeback looked doomed, until she went back to her old physiotherapist.
Recovered, she turned out for the Harriers again, as well as clocking 54.85 seconds at the Bedford International Games, the quickest female over-35 in Britain.
She admitted: "I'm on that wheel again now, and it I did make the Olympic team it would be my fifth Games."
And if she doesn't try "what if" will always bug her.
Fellow Harrier Natasha Danvers, 34, the 400m hurdler who won bronze four years ago, was forced to announce her retirement this week, having not raced for three years. She was due to race at the trials.
"It's an interesting one," admitted Fraser. "I always say Olympic year people come out of the woodwork, but you have to perform on the day (at the trials).
"It's weird, because I haven't got any pressure to make the team and that's made a huge difference.
"I have another life now, my life is not just about athletics like it used to be. I can't train like then because I'm working full-time, but when I do train it's a very decent quality."
But that other life is still very much related to London 2012.
"Had the Games not been in London I wouldn't have the same spirit, it wouldn't be on my doorstep and as I work for EDF who are one of the sponsors it is in my face 24/7, and has been since we got the Games.
"I used to train over in East London and I've seen it being built."
So what of the chances of making the relay team?
"If I was competing how I used to be, I'd definitely say yes. If I qualify, what will have got me there on the day will be my experience, as my 200m is really poor. My speed is not there."
She admits that, in reality, her age is against her, but added: "My competitive streak means I'm thinking 'No, you can do that'!"
Whether she makes the Games or not, she is relaxed and refreshed about running at the top level once more.
Fraser said: "I'm enjoying the 400m now, in a way which I wasn't towards the end of my career, because of the pressure I put on myself.
"It's only the expectations you put on yourself that count.
"I'm going with the flow, but it's not going to be the be all and end all if I don't reach the Olympics."