The "original six" charter members of Athletiques International (Noel Draper, Jeff Liddell, Kelly Bell, Tanneke Heersche, Laura Purdy, Janis Purdy) were originally members of an older, established Club with which they were dissatisfied, because of internal problems relating to certain members getting preferential treatment. In the Autume of 1979, when approached about forming a separate club, Oakville Legion coach Bruce Burton stipulated that, if he were offered the position of Head Coach (none at the time) or President (current President resigning) at the December AGM of the existing club, he would accept and attempt to correct the problems. If not, he would agree to be the Coach of a separate Club. Since neither offer was forthcoming, a new Club came into existence on January 1, 1980.
For a while, it was an un-named entity. At its first meet, the envelope with the numbers had "already been picked up", despite the fact that everybody was just then arriving. When asked, the meet organisers indicated that their entries, as Oakville Track and Field, had been placed in one envelope marked simply "Oakville". When tracked down, the coach of the other Oakville club denied seeing any numbers other than their own in the package, but, by checking the nearby garbage can, Mr. Burton found that the envelope, with the numbers, had found their way there. At that point, it became apparent that they needed a competitive name signifigantly different than their registered name.
The condition made by the coach was that the name had to start with "Athletiques", which is French, one of our two Official languages, and means "athletics", the international term for track and field. At an early practice, the athletes came forward with the current name, to signify their ambitions in the sport, and the ultimate goal of the Club. Because Mr. Burton specified that the Club would not take the easy way out, and accept funding from a sponsor who would want his name as part of the Club name, it has never changed.
Shortly after the announcement of the new club, former members of the original club, who had left it for various reasons, enquired about becoming members of Athletiques, as did others who had heard of it by word-of-mouth. By the end of its first month of existence, the Club had grown from the original six members to 23. Because of the time involved in coaching, however, a limit of 30 members was set for the year, unless other coaching became available. That number, plus three "unofficial" members, was reached by the start of the school season, and maintained throughout the first year.
Although the original club announced that they would never "recognise" the new club, it became quickly apparent that such a view from those not involved with the Club would not affect what the membership of Athletiques did in the competitions. In its first year of existence, and despite its much-smaller membership base, Athletiques had more OFSAA, Provincial, and National medalists than the original Club. And it has never looked back.
In 2009, the Provincial Association (Ontario Track and Field/Athletics Ontario) adopted what they call the "Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD)" model. Had they wanted, they would have had to look no further than Athletiques International, as that model has existed from the beginning as the overall programme of the Club, at both the individual and team level.
Using the long-term development concept, countless examples of athletes improving to become the best in their school, Ontario, or Canada after being discounted or ignored by other coaches or clubs can be taken from the Alumni of Athletiques International. At the same time, the Club developed from a small local group to one of the most successful age-group clubs in the area. In the Royal Canadian Legion programme, Athletiques members quickly showed themselves equal to athletes of the bigger and stronger clubs by qualifying for the District 'B' team in the first year, despite the fact that it was the dominant District in the Legion programme at the time. A year later, at the District Championships in Tillsonburg, the development of grass-roots athletes started to pay off, as they had the top group of under-14 boys and the #2 group of under-14 girls, as well as strong individual placements in the older age group. In 1982, as a club in only its third year of existence, it won its first District 'B' team Championship. At the time, the Mississauga and Burlington clubs each had six titles to their credit. By 1988, however, they were no longer the most-decorated, as Athletiques had won seven straight titles, a streak that was to continue until 1992. By 2000, with further titles in 1996, 1999, and 2000 (a deliberate target to close out the millenium) they had won an un-precedented 14 titles. No other club is yet to match the previously-best six!
After the 1992 District win, which saw Athletiques dominate so much that the winning total was more that 4-1/2 times the second best (479 to 106), the decision was made to "run with the big dogs". Coinciding with that decision, within four years, athletes nurtured by Athletiques International included the first, and so-far ONLY Canadian woman to throw the javelin 60 metres (Valerie Tulloch), and a male Olympic and World Record Holder over 100m (Donovan Bailey).
The focus of the club now concentrates solely on individuals. Coaching has followed this line, with each athlete being considered as an individual, rather than a member of an event area. In turn, this has evolved into selective acceptance of members, based, not on talent, as some clubs, but on their main event, and age. If a 16-year-old girl, for example, is concentrating on the hurdles, another 16-year-old female hurdler will not be accepted as a member, regardless of talent, unless the first member agrees. While other groups are sticking out their proverbial chests because they have several athletes in the Final, Athletiques International prefers to make one athlete good enough to win the Final. We no longer are concerned on claiming to be a strong club. Our concern now is to take an athlete as far as possible, including World and Olympic Championships. And selection to those competitions is for individuals, not groups.