From athlete to agent: Olympian Georgia Simmerling ready to help women thrive

Georgia Simmerling, left, celebrates winning the bronze medal during track cycling at the velodrome at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, alongside her Canadian teammates. (Frank Gunn/CP)

As an athlete, Georgia Simmerling represented Canada on ski slopes and cycling tracks around the world.

Now, fresh off her retirement following Tokyo 2020, the four-time Olympian is ready to represent some of Canada’s most promising female athletes as they strive for sporting success of their own.

Last week, Simmerling announced the launch her next venture, AG Sports Inc. — a female-led, female-focused Canadian sports and marketing agency.

“Each athlete has their own story, their own future, their own path and they are the ones to create that,” explained Simmerling, 32. “I'm there to elevate it, to help them to kind of foster it and to really bring their brands to life through partnerships with the right partner in their community.”

Over the past decade, Simmerling competed in both the Winter and Summer Games as one of just a handful of Canadian women to participate in both. In 2016, after competing in alpine skiing at Vancouver 2010 and the freestyle ski event at Sochi 2014, the West Vancouver native became the first Canadian to compete in a different sport at three different Olympics. That year in Rio saw her win bronze in women’s track cycling team pursuit. This past summer in Tokyo, she helped Canada to a fourth-place finish in the same event.

Even before the postponement of the Tokyo Games last year, Simmerling knew this fourth Olympic appearance would be her last. And with the additional year of training as a result of the 2020 Games being delayed, she began to lay the groundwork for what would come next. She knew she wanted to stay in the world of sports, and that the business side of athletics was an area she felt most keen on pursuing. Her curiosity propelled her to explore ideas in marketing, brand partnerships and athlete representation.

“I think the opportunity presented itself, having connected with corporations, sponsors, communities across the country, that's a passion of mine. I've always loved to do that, and it really gave me kind of a sense of purpose as well, being an athlete,” she said. “This idea of starting my own agency, it just felt right. It truly felt right."

As Simmerling prepared for the transition from athlete to agent, she saw a need for female representation in the industry.

“Entering the agency world in Canada, there is a massive space for female representation and I am very excited to kind of disrupt the market a little bit, if you will, and be a leader.”

To recognize the incredible impact female athletes are having on the world of sports, one needs to just open their eyes. In the past two months alone, women — particularly Canadian women — have captivated sports fans with their incredible success. Take Tokyo, for example: Of Canada's 24 medals won there, 18 were earned by women, including the first 13.

And as the numbers show, there's a massive appetite to tune in.

With 4.4 million viewers, Team Canada's gold medal women's soccer victory in Tokyo was the most-watched Olympic event in Canada. A month later, on the hard courts of the U.S. Open, Canada's Leylah Fernandez and Great Britain's Emma Raducanu drew a larger audience than the men's final matchup.

“The facts have shown that we are watching women's sports. We care,” Simmerling said.

She’s already signed a roster of talented athletes she’s set to represent. Among them is newly-crowned world champion Blayre Turnbull of Canada’s women’s hockey team; Olympic gold medallist in women’s eight rowing, Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski; Olympic bronze medallist in canoe sprint, Katie Vincent; Keirin track cyclist and Olympic bronze medallist Lauriane Genest; Track star Maddy Price, fresh off setting a new team-best time with the Canadian women’s 4x400-metre relay in Tokyo; and skiers Amy Fraser (a halfpipe specialist) and slalomist Amelia Smart, who’s turning heads after a dominant tour on the NCAA circuit.

“I'm excited to challenge corporations to really jump on board and invest because the opportunity is there. And it's not just for the athletes,” Simmerling continued. "Now is the time to invest in women’s sports."

Through her own personal experience as an athlete, the skier-turned-cyclist understands the importance of assembling a team around her — a team not just of fellow athletes, but brands and business partners that believed in her and propelled her to succeed on the podium as an athlete and on her platform as a public figure.

“I think the sponsors that I've created relationships with, they have supported me for a number of years now and I cherish those relationships … It gives you so much confidence, knowing that you have support,” she said. “I only hope that I can create something like that for my athletes.”

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