The club was only four months old when first contacted about the 14-year-old student at Appleby College in Oakville.
With a 100m best of 11.9 seconds and a long jump best of 5.56m, he was interested in improving his performances in each event to get ready for his up-coming school season. With a few minor adjustments in his running technique and take-off, he not only achieved that goal, but surprised himself with his Summer performances.
At his first club competition, the District B Legion Championships, he bettered 6.00m for the first time, and was selected to the District B team in the 14-and-under category. At the Ontario Legion Championships, he again posted a Personal Record, winning the Bantam long jump at 6.24m, and finishing third over 100m at 11.5 seconds.
As part of the Ontario Team, he went on to capture the club's first-ever National Championships, capturing gold at the Canadian Legion Championships with a 6.36m leap and bronze over 100m, with a time of 11.3 seconds.
He hit it lucky in 1981, as the Legion programme changed its age groups, putting him into the new 15-and-under group. Taking advantage of this, he repeated his jump success, winning the National Legion Championships with a flight of 6.64m, and tying for a Meet Record over 100m with an 11.1 clocking. Despite having the same time, however, he was given second.
National Champions attract attention, so it wasn't long before the "experts" came forward to "help" him.
The first offer came from the then-Head Coach of McMaster University, but he quickly found little to offer from that source.
Next, the "Canadian Long Jump Coach" invited him down to the University of Toronto, but that programme offered the jump only, but not the sprint.
He then tried the Mazda Optimist programme at York University, but that was for sprints only, and not the jumping. At that point, pride entered the picture, and, having never heard the phrase, "You dance with the one that brung you", he declined returning to his original club, instead quitting the sport altogether, and unfortunately never finding out what he might have done.
A student at McMaster University when first introduced to club competition, he had a best of 1.92m from high school, which had placed him eighth in OFSSA three years before. Despite the fact that McMaster had a track team, they limited their involvement to running events of 600m or more, so he had not jumped for three years.
With training being confined to a mezzanine above a gym, and not having access to landing mats, his training was limited to speed work in the halls, strength work in the gym, and take-off drills in the mezzanine.
Despite what most would consider "handicaps", he started attending a series of indoor competitions at various venues, improving at every outing. Because of his rapid improvement, and the usual "blinkers" worn by the "experts", Canadian track and field refused to accept his results, suggesting instead that the Officials were measuring incorrectly.
It required entering the Ontario Indoor Championships and winning (2.16m) to prove that the Officials were not wrong. Within a year of taking up the sport again after a three-year hiatus, he was ranked second in Canada with a clearance of 2.19m
After graduating, he landed a job in Vancouver, and, although hooking up with a club out there, found that the two roles didn't work out well, retiring from competition, but still finding the occasional time to work with younger athletes.
In Grade eight, he was unable to make his school track team in the shot put, his preferred event, because he was only second in the trials held in his class, one of three in the school. Instead, he competed in high jump because nobody else had signed up for it. In his first meet for the club, at the District B Legion Championships in Tillsonburg, he could manage only fifth in high jump, which he assumed was now his event, but managed to finish second behind his school classmate in shot put, and first in an event that he had never tried before, the javelin. Ironically, although failing to qualify for his school team in shot put in grade 8, he went on to become OFSSA shot put Champion three times (Midget, Junior, and Senior) as a high school competitor at Queen Elizabeth Park.
It was via Club competition, however, that he discovered his ultimate event. At the Ontario Championships in London, as a Midget competitor, he was entered in all FOUR of the throwing events. Although familiar with the shot put, discus toss, and javelin throw from high school, it was the fourth event, the hammer fling, that struck a chord.
In conjunction with the Town of Oakville Parks and Recreation Department, the Club arranged for a proper throwing circle to be laid down at Queen Elizabeth Park High School, and passers-by would often see him working on his turns at the site. During the Winter months, he would carry the hammers from home to the school, a distance of more than a kilometre, sweep the snow from the circle, and, wearing three layers of clothing, work by himself on this little-known event of track and field.
In 1985, he was the first Ontario Juvenile (now Youth) athlete to better 60.00m, with three marks over 61.00m, the best being 61.09m. He did this with the 12-pound implement, then in use, as opposed to the 11-pound hammer currently used by that age group. Also that year, although only 16, he attended his first National Junior Championships, and won the bronze medal.
The following year, as the silver medalist, he was chosen to attend the World Junior Championships in Athens, Greece.
In 1987, however, he became the first-ever National Champion in hammer from Ontario, breaking the stranglehold held for several years by athletes from Quebec and Alberta.
In 1989, at the Canada Summer Games in Saskatoon, he was given the silver medal in the hammer after a controversial last-round attempt by an Alberta athlete (a fault called by the Chief was over-ruled by the Throws Referee at the 60.00m mark of the sector). But that was the last time that he ever placed behind that thrower.
In 1990, he contested the National title in the Senior category, entering the event ranked sixth. After the dust cleared, however, he had upset the entire field, including two athletes with marks five metres further. In doing that, he became Ontario's first-ever Senior Champion in the event. In 1991, this time ranked fifth, he repeated the deed. He never returned to defend his title, however, instead deciding to concentrate on his teaching career.
Following his upset win in the OFSSA Senior shot put in 1987, he had attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, setting School Records in his four years there, and making several appearances at both the Indoor and Outdoor NCAA Championships, earning several All-American honours along the way. 30 years later, he still holds the School Record for the hammer.
He is currently teaching Fine Arts in a New York City private school.
PAT KALAHER (throws):
Although originally of the belief that football was a real sport, it took time to convince him to take up track and field seriously, to the exclusion of the gridiron.
Following the lead of his school-mate Evan, he began to throw during the Winter months at the Town-supplied circle, which was easier for him, since the school was across the road from his house.
A year younger than Evan, he always found himself in the "follower" position, both because of his age and Evan's earlier start to the sport.
So it was in 1988, with Evan now too old for Junior competition, that he found the road clear to become Canadian Junior Champion in the hammer fling, with an effort in excess of 55.00m. That victory was also historical, since, although it was the second time that an Ontario athlete had won the event at a National Championships, it was the first time that any club in Canada had had repeat Champions in the event, with different athletes.
Although he still had a year of eligibility for high school, he elected to once again follow, and enrolled at Dartmouth College the same year as Evan. But while there, he proved himself to be superior to Evan in the weight throw, setting a Canadian Indoor Junior Record in his first season at Hanover.
Following his graduation, he landed a job as a computer programmer at Brown University, and eventually worked his way into a management position in an English-based company.
GREG STEFANIW (hurdles):
Greg originally attended the club's Summertime Track Camp, where he was introduced to all of the track and field events. Although originally competing in the 100m and triple jump for his school, he took a quick liking to running over fences.
Joining the club after that first Summer, he further honed his skills over the barriers, and, as a Midget in his first Ontario Track and Field Association Championships forced a much-stronger and more-experienced athlete to break the existing Ontario Record to win the sprint hurdles, as he finished second by one-hundredth of a second!
In the ensuing years, he was several times an OFSSA Champion for Oakville-Trafalgar High School, but it was in 1988, after finishing second in OFSSA over the 110m hurdles and winning the 400m hurdles, that he travelled to Edmonton for the National Juniors.
At that meet, he reversed his OFSSA performances. But he wasn't disappointed, since his concentration in training had been on the sprint hurdles, and the athlete that had edged him out at OFSSA. By three-hundredths of a second, he got his "revenge" and the gold medal, with his silver in the longer hurdles behind an Alberta athlete a bonus.
This also marked the first time that the club had dual gold alumni, as Evan Brown won the hammer fling at the same meet.
CORALENA VELSEN (distances):
Coralena came to the club as an athlete that everyone discounted as someone to watch; on her high school Midget team, she was the "extra" runner, having finished 22nd out of 27 runners at the Halton Cross-Country Championships, 3½ minutes behind the winner, who would then go on to win the OFSSA Cross-Country Championships that year.
With gradual improvements over the indoor season she dipped under 12-minutes in the 3000m for the first time in March.
When the Midget girls lined up for the 3000m at the Halton Track and Field Champions, the unquestioned favourite was the OFSSA Cross-Country Champion, Missie McCleary of Lester B. Pearson. Coralena's goal going into the race was to finish top-six, and qualify for the next meet, but to also see how close she could get to Missie.
With competitors dropping back with each lap, she found herself in sixth, then fourth, then third, then second with 600m left to go. At that point, she looked to her coach, who gave her permission to run hard the rest of the way. To the shock of the coaches watching the race, she won the event by 18 seconds over the OFSSA Champion! Although Missie recovered, and went on to win OFSSA, Coralena finished fifth, and earned her first, but not her last, OFSSA award.
Improving with each season, in 1988, in Kingston, now the owner of several silver and bronze OFSSA medals, she lined up against an OFSSA cross-country field that has been often described as the strongest field ever, with 28 OFSSA gold medals and 13 National gold medals represented.
With most of the race through a heavily-wooded area, and hidden from view of the spectators, only the leaders were announced at each kilometre.
When the leader came out of the woods with 800m to go, it was the National 10,000m Champion. Second out of the woods, 40m back, was Coralena. From that point, every stride showed her getting gradually closer.
300m from the finish, spectators thought that she had made a mistake, as she continued toward the water upon entering a beach area, less than 10m behind the leader.
That was not a mistake, however, as her coach had previously pointed out that, although going further, she would be running on wet sand, which offers a firmer step, while the shorter course, on soft sand, would have her draining her legs.
As both athletes came away from the beach, and entered the finishing chute, it took a video of the finish, and almost a full minute, before they could finally declare her the winner. 30 years have passed, and no other White Oaks runner has yet duplicated the feat.
Although previously ignored by everyone, she now had university coaches suddenly interested. Her eventual choice, however, was the coach and university that had sent the ONLY reply to the 27 letters that she had sent out to various Canadian and U.S. programmes.
At the University of Florida in Gainesville, she was several times an All-American, both indoors and outdoors, and graduated with many All-Time marks in their rankings.
The school found her a job as a Nursing Supervisor in Lakefield, Florida, before she moved to a large New York City hospital in time for 9/11.
She currently lives in Rochester, New York.
DONAVAN BAILEY (sprints, relay)
Donovan originally came out to the club because he thought that he could get a free trip to Vancouver; school-mate Evan Brown had been talking about his up-coming trip, and he mistakenly believed that all he had to do was sign up to get a similar perq. As pointed out, however, Evan had been a club member for two years, and had EARNED the trip. Donovan decided to stay, anyway, and started to attend periodic practices.
From the beginning, however, it was obvious that he had much to learn, starting with a proper warm-up. All he had done at school was a couple of toe-touches and some running on the spot, so having him run laps, stretch, and strides was akin to pulling the proverbial teeth.
As a first-year Junior (grade 13 still existed), he finished sixth at OFSSA in 10.99 seconds representing Queen Elizabeth Park Secondary School. Since the five runners ahead of him were going to be Seniors the following year, he automatically concluded that he would be OFSSA Champion the next June. And showing him the times of the Midgets from that year failed to dissuade him from that belief, since they were all in the "elevens".
Next Spring, however, turned out to be cold and wet, and, still reverting back to his school warm-up, he pulled a hamstring muscle at an Invitational meet, and wore a Tensor bandage for the Halton Championships. At the next round, however, the Tensor ran the entire length of his thigh, but the damage had been done and he failed to qualify for OFSSA.
At that point, he decided that he was a basketball player, and used to wow the crowds by doing backward "dunks" in the warm-ups, although not getting a lot of court time in the actual games.
A few years later, seeing some familiar names (he had competed against them) making National Teams, he decided to take up the sport again.
His first involvement was to travel to the University of Toronto, to train with Angela Bailey (no relation). Next, he showed up at York University to work with Ben Johnson, but found himself in a lesser-important group. So began the "Bailey tour", going from club-to-club, making National Teams as a relay alternate, and discovering about intra-club politics, before finally deciding to return to his original club, with no politics.
Being told up front that training in Ontario, with too many former coaches and training partners in attendance during the Winter training at York, would not work, he was instead connected with Dan Pfaff and his training group at Louisiana State University.
From there, it was a fast track. Going to meets in Europe that first year, he ended up ranked fifth in the World over 100m (10.05s).
In 1995, he pulled an "upset" at the World Championships by winning the 100m in 9.97s, ahead of Bruny Surin (10.03s). They also won the 400m relay. The victories, of course, being immediately discounted by the U.S. athletes, he nonetheless continued preparing for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
With the best athletes in the World lined up against him, he won the 100m in a Canadian, Olympic, and World Record of 9.84 seconds. At the end of the meet, they also, again, beat the best 400m relay teams in the World. That Olympic Record lasted until bettered by Usain Bolt of Jamaica, in 2008.
VALERIE TULLOCH (combined events, javelin):
Upon moving from Toronto to Mississauga, her mother tried to establish her in the local club, but her phone calls and messages were never returned. She had also been turned away by clubs from Brampton and Etobicoke. A call to the coach of her previous club garnered the suggestion that she contact A.I., and the hook-up was made shortly thereafter.
Originally a competitor in the 100m and long jump, the suggestion was made, after watching her run during the warm-up the first night at York University, that she try hurdles. 20 minutes later, she was successfully running over three hurdles set at the proper distances and heights. So, with her mother's permission, she was registered with OTFA (now AO), in order to compete in the up-coming Indoor Championships, two weeks later. It was at those Championships that she set her first Ontario Record, over 60m hurdles, that would last for eight years.
But, true to club tradition, her training was not limited to the event of quick success.
When outdoor training began, she was introduced to all of the field events, and, at that Summer's Outdoor Bantam, Midget, and Juvenile Championships in Burlington, as a Bantam, went home with gold medals in five events; 80m hurdles, long jump, shot put, hammer fling (Ontario Record), and javelin throw, managing, despite a lack of any great shoulder flexibility, a P.R. of more than 32 metres, which was also further than the girls in the older age groups.
The following indoor season, she put the shot (4kg) 12.72m, bettering the Ontario Indoor Record set by former Canadian Champion Michelle Brotherton. Outdoors that year, after considerable work increasing her shoulder flexibility, she threw the javelin (600gm) 42.72m for an Ontario U-16 record, and became Ontario Combined Events Champion in the Quadrathlon (80m hurdles, shot put, high jump, 200m).
The following year, her javelin improved to 44.14m and a U-17 Ontario Record, and she became Ontario Champion in her first-ever heptathlon (80m hurdles, long jump, shot put, 200m, high jump, javelin throw, 800m).
In 1989, she set an Ontario Juvenile Girls Heptathlon Record that would last until finally broken by none other than Jessica Zelinka. Also that year, at the Canada Summer Games trials in Tillsonburg, she threw the javelin 52.52m for both an Ontario and Canadian Juvenile Record. That Record would be unbroken until the specifications for the implement were changed in the late '90's. In Saskatoon, at the Games, she was victorious in the javelin, and helped the Ontario team to victory by contributing points in the shot put and hammer.
Attending her first Canadian Senior Championships that Summer, she went into the meet with the advice that she would have to finish at least top three in order to warrant selection to the Commonwealth Games Team, since the meet was also the Trials.
Although finishing fifth with a 49+ throw, she was later mysteriously selected.
It was after the Games, held in New Zealand in January, where she had finished 14th with a throw of just over 47-metres, that the reason for her selection became apparent; both the Team Head Coach and Throws Coach were from the University of Toronto Track Club, and she was told that the reason for her poor performance was because she had been "poorly prepared", and the only way that she could get proper coaching was to train with "The National Team" at U of T.
The falseness of this became obvious over the next four years. Attending Rice University in Houston on a full scholarship previously arranged by A.I., she lived up to a prediction made by her coach while she was still in Grade 10, winning NCAA as a Freshman with a 56+ throw, only to return home and train with the "National Coach" and throw 48-metres on home soil.
This scenario continued for the next three years - winning NCAA as a Sophomore, winning silver as a Junior, then gold again as a Senior - each time with throws in the 57m-58m, before returning home to sub-par performances around 50-metres.
In 1995, she was selected to the Pan-Am squad travelling to Buenos Aires.
No longer NCAA-eligible, and therefore not allowed to work with Victor Lopez at Rice, contact was made with her former club for permission to attend their training camp in Tallahassee over Spring Break. Flying to the A.I. camp on the Saturday, she had daily sessions before flying back to Houston on the following Friday in order to get her plane connection to South America.
In Buenos Aires, she captured bronze in the women's javelin throw, with a best of 60.72m, and thereby becoming Canada's first woman over 60.00m. That mark would also be obliterated when the javelin specifications were changed.
Now only 28-centimetres from Olympic selection, she was convinced by the Rice University strength coach that she just had to be a bit stronger to make Atlanta (her qualifying would then be listed in the University's media guide, making the coaches "look good" in the eyes of the Administration, and help them to keep their jobs).
With her training no longer being monitored by a qualified coach, however, excessive weight was placed on the bar for a squat, and the quadriceps muscle of her left thigh was torn.
For the Olympic Trials, A.I. refused to enter her because of the injury, but she was accepted by the Meet Organisers in Montreal because of her throw of the previous year. On the day of the event, with her thigh wrapped in a Tensor, she managed 51+ metres, and fifth place.
While at school, she had met an athlete from Chicago; they are now married and living in the Houston area.
JON McPHAIL (distances, long hurdles):
Jon came to the club as a result of a phone call by the Phys.-Ed Head of Gordon E. Perdue High School (now St. Thomas Aquinas).
One of his Grade nine students had beaten the rest of his class in the one-mile run by half a lap, and would A.I. be interested in working with him. It was at one of the subsequent practices that it came out that his time for the run was 6:09!
Although he may not have had a spectacular time to start, there is no substitution for discipline and determination, and Jon certainly had that. Born into a military family, with his father a Major in the Armed Forces, he had never learned what it was to give up on something once he had started.
His original time quickly became history, as his performances improved, and he became a force to be reckoned with, both on the track and during cross-country season.
During the Summer following his Grade 10 year, he was introduced to hurdling, and, once proficient enough, taken to a track with a steeplechase barrier and introduced to the water jump.
It was this event that was to eventually become his favourite, and strongest event, making the District B team in the 1500m steeplechase after Grade 11, and winning some lesser medals at the Provincial club levels.
In his Grade 13 year, after qualifying for OFSSA in cross-country, and setting 1500m and 3000m bests both indoors and outdoors, he qualified for the OFSSA 2000m steeplechase, ranked sixth of all the qualifiers.
The rankings mean nothing when the gun goes, however, and he pushed the leaders throughout the race. At the finish, he had missed gold by 5-hundredths of a second, winning his school's first-ever OFSSA medal in track and field.
The following year, he entered Royal Military College in Kingston, and is now a senior Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces.
KELLY BELL (sprint hurdles):
Athletiques International seem to have a lot of athletes come to them because they get little or no interest anywhere else. And so it was with Kelly.
When the small group that was to eventually become Athletiques International was still with the Oakville Legion club, Kelly had been assigned to the sprint group (her school events were 100m and long jump). With irregular attendance by the sprint coach, she had been then directed to the middle distance/hurdles group. It was with that group that she was receiving no attention, so she went to the opposite end of the track, where she spotted an athlete from her school, Thomas A. Blakelock, and asked if she could join them.
Since it was predominantly a throws group, she attempted those events before the coach asked her what events she normally did. When she told him, he asked if she had ever tried hurdles, and she replied that she wanted to, but the coach at the other end didn't think that she would be any good, because she was "too short".
As with Jon, however, natural ability is often out-weighed by determination. After knocking down several hurdles, and getting a few "behind-the-hands" snickers from the other group, she eventually learned to relax, and feel the rhythm of the event.
At the District B meet that year, she pulled her first upset, as she not only beat the girls from the other training group, but won the 80m hurdles, and finished second in the 400m hurdles.
The following Spring, as a Midget, despite being in Grade 10 (she had been advanced in Elementary school), she qualified for her first OFSSA Championships, in Etobicoke.
With a slow start, due to butterflies, she finished second by the narrowest of margins, but took home the school's only OFSSA medal in several years.
As so happens with high school track, the school coach "knew all about hurdles", and insisted on her attending all the hurdle sessions at the school. The result was that, although she managed to win medals at the club level every year, and qualified for OFSSA every year, she never won another OFSSA medal.
After graduation, she registered at Queen's University in Kingston, taking up what many consider a greater challenge, becoming one of the few females in the Engineering programme.
MIKE KLUK (distances):
Mike was originally spotted while playing goal for the Oakville Soccer Club.
The future A.I. coach (then still with Oakville Legion) was attending the game to watch his cousin's son (on a Burlington team) play. He noticed, however, that the Oakville goalie was not content to simply sit back and wait for the other team to come to him; he would run forward to meet the ball before it came into shooting range, often intercepting attackers.
After the game, Mike was approached and asked if he had ever done track. The surprising answer was that he wanted to do track, but his father wouldn't pay for two sports (Poland had won a major title a few years earlier, so his father had visions of his son being another great Polish soccer player).
The arrangement was then made that his father wouldn't have to pay his club registration; since Mike received an allowance, the coach would arrange for a free year of training, and pick him up and drive him to practices. Meanwhile, Mike would save his allowance and pay for the following year's membership.
Although he was allowed to train on the same track, the club refused to allow him a free membership. As a result, the recruiting coach said that he would coach him separately.
For the District B meet in Tillsonburg, he was entered as an independent, because the club refused to allow him to be listed under their banner. In the 3000m, he was directed to concentrate on the athlete considered to be the favourite, from Brantford. Following him for four laps, he then took the lead and proceeded to leave the entire field behind. At the finish, he was almost 200m ahead of the silver medalist. Later that day, he won gold over 1500m.
Repeating the deed at the Ontario Legion meet (gold over 3000m, silver over 1500m), he travelled to Winnipeg for the National Legion Championships at the Peace Gardens, where he won gold over 3000m and finished fifth over 1500m.
The following year, when he had saved enough for his club membership (still getting rides from his original coach), the club tried to direct him to the middle-distance group, even having the athletes in that group telling him that he should work with the "proper" coach, but he elected to stay with the original coach, making OFSSA in both cross-country and track in his first year of high school.
Unfortunately for the sport, he started a part-time job while in high school, and lacked sufficient time to continue.
RICK BUYS (sprints):
Rick was a member of the Halton Region Police Force, stationed in Burlington, when he contacted the club.
Since he was continually running down "perps" while wearing his uniform, including his issued shoes, his fellow officers suggested that he should compete in the World Police and Fire Games, in size second only to the Olympics, held in various countries every two years.
After honing his skill in track shoes, he entered the Games in Sweden, to compete in the 100m and 200m.
Although not the greatest starter in the meet, he managed to win the bronze over the shorter distance, in 11.35 seconds.
In the 200m, the U.S. runner to his right false-started, so he pulled up, thinking that they would be recalled. When that didn't happen, he started to chase the field, and actually placed second, less than half a metre behind the runner that had jumped the gun, in 22.44 seconds.
At that point, he though that his Games were over, but three Irish Bobbies asked him to be part of their relay, and he quickly agreed. In the Final of that race, running anchor, he was again chasing the same U.S. runner as in the 200m, and was again just behind him at the tape, to take home his second silver, and third medal of the meet.
He now had two years to prepare for the next Games, and decided that he would add the javelin throw to his arsenal.
With a much-improved start, he managed to finish a close second over 100m in 11.13 seconds. Although slightly faster over 200m (22.31 seconds), he was again second, although to a different U.S. runner (the winner from Sweden was there, but finished sixth). For his first competition in javelin he came up with an impressive 42.56m throw, for his third silver of the Games.
KERRY KNOWLES (sprints):
Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is currently encouraged by all of our sport-governing bodies, but it was in place long beforehand, and Kerry was one of the first beneficiaries of it. Coming to the club as a nine-year-old, she was quickly identified as more than just someone with a bit of speed. Progressing from 15.4 to 13.8 seconds in her first year, she set an Association Tyke Record for the Ontario Minor Track and Field Association (now Minor Track Association of Ontario - MTA) in 1982 that would stand up to all attempts for eight years.
Although most clubs would have then categorised her as a 100m runner, she was steered toward long-term goals, to better use her talent; as a 10-year-old, her training took her in the longer distance of 200m while still improving her ground speed. Her time over 100m dropped to 12.9 seconds, which was then the second-fastest for her age, but she was groomed for the longer distance by running arranged races over 150m, which many coaches dismissed as "not a real distance".
As an 11-year-old, however, that development model showed its benefits, as she recorded times of 12.5s for 100m, 26.4s for 200m, and 1:01.5 for 400m.
The club wasn't to witness its eventual result, as the family moved to Chicago at the end of the year, and, despite being given several contacts in that area, she never showed up on the track and field radar again.
SURA YEKKA (400m, 800m)
Sura originally came to the club to develop her speed for soccer; although she had an above-average skill level in the sport, she had twice failed to make the League All-Star team because of her speed level. That changed very quickly, however.
Although her first practice was in mid-January, her speed improved such that she showed herself to be, in that year's County Track and Field Championships, a force to be reckoned with, winning both the 100m and 200m, and anchoring her school team to a win in the 400m relay.
That Summer, she recorded a time of 41.82s for the 300m, one week before bettering the 60-seconds mark over 400m, with a 59.44 clocking. At the AO Championships in London, she ran her first-ever 800m, pushing Kailee Sawyer to a new Ontario Bantam Record of 2:15.69 while herself recording a 2:15.91 time. The old Record was 2:15.73 She also met her projected mark for 400m, based on her 300m time, by running the one lap in 58.50 seconds.
In December, she recorded a time of 41.83 over 300m, and set a new PR of 58.34 seconds over 400m.
At that point, her speed had improved so much that she had moved to more competitive soccer leagues, and been selected for both the Ontario under-15 and under-17 teams. Her soccer career then progressed quickly, being advanced to the National Junior Team and then the National squad. She was part of the Canadian team for the 2015 Pan-Am Games, and has so far played in more than a dozen International matches for Canada.
ANKE BRUHNS (middle-distance):
Anke was a baby when she, along with her parents, aunt, uncle, and baby cousin, left East Germany in the middle of the night in a home-made rubber raft.
Seeking asylum in the Canadian Consulate in West Germany, they emigrated to Canada and settled in Mississauga, where her father gained employment as a millwright. She came to the club as an 10-year-old who had some minor success at the school level, and wanted to follow it up at a higher level.
Although her first year at the club level was not what anyone could describe as earth-shattering, she won some minor awards at a few meets and laid down a solid base for the future. And that future started to appear in 1990, her second year in the club. Running the 400m in 1:01.9, and the 800m in 2:25.3, she found herself in the Minor Track Association's All-Time Top Ten in both events, a distinction that she still holds, although no longer as high on the list.
But it was in the 1500m that she made a name for herself. Running in the now-defunct Cobra Sports Association Series, she made it all the way to the North American Championships, held in Sacremento, California, where she managed to beat the best of her age with a devastating final kick, and a time of 5:08.7
One year later, this time against girls up to a year older, she repeated the feat, this time recording a time of 4:54.2.
With the two Germanys now re-united, her family decided to return to the home that had been temporarily in her grandparents care.