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Croydon champion Donna Fraser unveils honour to unsung South Norwood sporting hero

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ONE OF Croydon's finest athletes unveiled a plaque to one of the borough's lesser-known sporting heroes this week.

Former European 400m champion Donna Fraser helped mark the achievements of SE25 runner Ellen 'Ciss' Wright with a blue plaque at South Norwood Leisure Centre.

South Norwood runner Miss Wright, born in 1910, won the 440 yards at the Women's AAA in 1931 – becoming the England national champion.

Community group People for Portland Road sponsored the plaque after a campaign by local historian John Hickman and Mike Fleet of Croydon Harriers.

Fraser, 41, originally from Thornton Heath, said: "I was told a few months ago and I was more than happy to be there at the unveiling. It's good to give something back to Croydon, which as an area has really helped me in my career.

"It is good that they are doing this to celebrate local heroes, it's just a shame she's not around to see it.

"She won the equivalent of what is now the AAAs, which in my heyday was a really big deal but it was harder for her to get noticed."

Fraser excelled at the same distance as Miss Wright, winning the AAAs on a number of occasions and went on claim bronze medals at the World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games.

Fraser, fourth in the 400m final at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, regrets the achievements of many athletes aren't recognised sooner. "It's such a shame that people only tend to be recognised when they die," Fraser added.

"Things are a lot better now but you can imagine females were not regarded in the same way so it would have been tough for her."

It is believed Miss Wright, who used to work in one of her father's shoemaking and repair shops in either South Norwood or Thornton Heath, emigrated to Australia with her husband and faded into obscurity.

Penge resident Fraser, is a breast cancer campaigner and also works as an ambassador for EDF Energy. She added: "I would be honoured to be recognised in the future but there are a lot of people who came before me who have done great things and are yet to be recognised. It'd be lovely to have a plaque with my name on it – as long as it's not in the ladies toilets in The Whitgift Centre!"

The plaque was unveiled on Saturday, at a ceremony also attended by council leader Tony Newman.

Croydon champion Donna Fraser unveils honour to unsung South Norwood sporting hero


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