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Q & A with 4 x Olympian – Donna Fraser

March is known globally as Women’s History Month, a celebration deep rooted by the accomplishments and contributions of women throughout the years to our culture and society. March is sprinkled with holidays that pay homage to this, from International Women’s Day to Mother’s Day. Over these last few weeks, the nation has witnessed a cluster of momentous events that have cast both light and shade on the status of women’s equality. But now, as March draws to a close, we wanted to end the month on a high note by celebrating one of Britain’s most inspirational female athletes – Donna Fraser.

 

Donna Fraser is a 4 times GB Olympian and former 400m sprinter from Croydon. Since reluctantly retiring from Athletics in 2009 due to a Breast Cancer diagnosis, Donna has gone on to become the UK Athletics’ first Equality, Diversity and Engagement Lead, working to champion ethnically diverse communities and inclusivity at all levels of sport.

 

Donna is an incredibly inspiring woman, demonstrating sheer determination not just on the athletics track but across all areas of her life. Today, Donna is a Breast Cancer Now Ambassador, striving to raise awareness and support others going through a similar experience. For International Women’s Day this year, the theme was #ChoosetoChallenge. Donna has embodied this theme her whole life, choosing to accept challenge after challenge; whether that be as an Olympic athlete, battling Breast Cancer, or fighting to gain a voice for under-represented groups!

 

 

We asked Donna a few questions to find out how her experiences have shaped her to become the inspirational woman she is today!

Can you tell us a bit about your role as the Equality, Diversity, and Engagement Lead at British Athletics and how important this is to you?

The role involves driving our ED&I agenda within our sport, working closely with the Home Country Leads to ensure our sport strives to be inclusive in everything we do.

 

Being active has been a big part of your life ever since you were young. For those who haven’t been active for most of their life or haven’t been encouraged to do so, what advice would you give them to take that first step to activity?

Start small – even if it is walking to the end of the road and back or a short stretching exercise class which you can do in the comfort of your own home. Find something that works for you and that you enjoy.

 

If your teachers had not recognised your talent of running, would this have been something you would have pursued anyway?

That’s a great question – my parents wouldn’t have known how to contact my local athletics club, so I probably would have started much later if at all.

 

How did you believe in yourself?

Having positive people around me breeds self-belief and positivity.

 

After beating Breast Cancer in 2009, did this change your outlook on life at all and how did your passion for sport help you through?

Most definitely, sometimes we need to go through challenging times to help us realise how strong we are.  In my case, I quickly realised that life is too short and can be taken away from us at any time, so seize the moment and enjoy it while I can.

 

As we start to come out of lockdown and head back towards normality, do you think people’s attitude towards physical exercise and its benefits for our mental health will have changed?

I really hope so!  This has been a lesson learned for all of us.  I have seen so many people in my local park just walking, more than I would in the summer and I hope people will continue with that and see the benefits of getting out and about.

 

After already achieving so much, what do you aspire to next?

I still have life in me. I am taking every day as it comes at the moment, BUT I just aim to be the best version of me, both as a person and in my working career – be a better person than I was yesterday.  I can never stop learning, so will continue to do so and be inspired by others.

 

Which food is your guilty pleasure?

Pizza and if sweets count, Percy Pig and Squashies sweets (apple and cherry).

 

We would like to thank Donna for her time and sharing these answers with us! If you would like to follow Donna and keep up to date with her journey, go visit her social media below.

 

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