The concept and formation of an Australian Olympians Club was initiated in Victoria after the Tokyo Games with the first events/functions being held in 1965.
These were modest events held at the Olympic Park greyhound track and the Carlton Bowling Club, both venues no longer exist.
The main organisers were, among others, Charlie Morley (Coach of the Hockey team in 64), Edgar Tanner and Geoff Henke. A new group took responsibility in the 70s with Bill and Betty Hoffmann, Ralph Doubell, John Konrads and Leon Wiegard.
Olympians came and went but some of those who made significant contributions from the 70s up to the current time include; Bob Lay, Margot Foster (President), Peter Doak, Jenny Holliday, Shirley Harris, Wendy Grant and Ray Weinberg. Geoff Henke from the original committee is still an active committee member.
In Sydney a group including canoeists Dennis Green, Phil Coles (IOC member since 1982) and gold medal swimmer Kevin Berry started a similar club soon after the Mexico 1968 Olympics. But, unlike Victoria which was closely associated with the Victorian Olympic Committee from day one, the NSW model was set up to be independent of the "official" Olympic administration and so "The Five Circles Club" was formed. Other states and territories followed with all but NSW opting for "The Olympians Club" as a name.
In 1999, with the Sydney 2000 Games approaching, the AOC began the process of bringing all of the Clubs across the nation into some official structure. This would ensure that each Club was being managed in a way to benefit all Olympians and protect the use of the Olympic Rings and emblems.
By early 2000 a common constitution was adopted (in Principal) by all Clubs. NSW became the Olympians Club of NSW and the Olympians Club of Australia was formed, with Leon Wiegard as President and Bob Elphinston (Secretary General of the AOC) as secretary. That organisation is now part of the AOC.
Australian Olympians Association
Following an extensive consultation process with the then Presidents of the Olympians Clubs in 2020-21, the Australian Olympians Club/s changed their names to now be known as the Australian Olympians Association (AOA) to better align with the World Olympians Association (WOA).
The Australian Olympians Association (AOA) provides a connection for all Olympians through functions and events, support for fellow Olympians in need and support for the current and upcoming Olympians and the ideals of the Olympic movement.
The AOA was endorsed by the AOC Executive in 2021, replacing a previous network of state-based Olympians Clubs which started into being after the Tokyo 1964 Games and subsequent Games.
The creation of the national body has enabled greater collaboration through quarterly meetings of State Delegates. The AOA operates under an Association Terms of Reference.
The AOA sits under the direction of the Australian Olympic Committee and is a member of the World Olympians Association (WOA) the independent, international, non-governmental organisation, governed by the Swiss Civil Code, whose mission is to unite, represent and, serve Olympians and to promote Olympism.
With an AOA chapter in each State & Territory, the objective of the AOA is:
To unite Olympians and recognise the contribution of Olympians to Australian sport and Olympic Teams, providing genuine and meaningful opportunities to connect.
The AOA also plays a significant role, supporting the delivery of AOC programming across the areas of career development and wellbeing.
World Olympians Association Executive members
Natalie Cook - Beach Volleyball (Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012)
James Tomkins - Rowing (Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008)
World Olympians Association
The WOA was formed in 1995 with Australian Peter Montgomery as the inaugural President, followed by gold medallists Herb Elliott and Kieren Perkins as Board members.
The WOA website has the latest news and opportunities for Olympians, including registering for their OLY post-nominal letters.