If all had gone to plan, Donna Fraser would have been putting those impossibly long legs of hers up in front of the television set at her south London home next weekend, watching the European Indoor Championships as a recently retired athlete. Instead, the 36-year-old veteran will be pulling on a Great Britain vest and cranking her spidery limbs into action in the Oval Lingotto in Turin.
Fraser was named yesterday in the 36-strong British team for the biennial championships, which run from 6 to 8 March. Having been picked for the individual 400m, as well as the 4 x 400m relay, at least she is guaranteed a run. Last summer in Beijing the Croydon Harrier was part of the relay squad but never got to race on the Bird's Nest track. "The plan was to retire after Beijing but when I didn't get to run there I just couldn't end my career like that," Fraser said.
Instead of hanging up her racing spikes, the woman who finished fourth in "the Cathy Freeman race", the Olympic 400m final in Sydney in 2000, has been rolling back the years on the indoor circuit. At the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham last Saturday she came close to beating Christine Ohuruogu, the Olympic 400m champion, in a gripping 200m race. "I've just been having fun," she said. "I'm back to what I was as an eight-year-old, handing out wine gums to the other girls."
Two members of the British team top the rankings in their events: Dwain Chambers in the 60m and Mo Farah in the 3,000m. Kelly Sotherton has been picked for the pentathlon but may yet withdraw because of a heel problem.