Heading into her third Games, Georgia Simmerling has become an Olympic veteran.
“I’ve been through the motions of high pressure, high stress, cameras in your face, crowds going crazy… At the end of the day it’s just a race and you’ve got to go out there and perform,” said Simmerling. “You’ve got to rely on what you’ve done and what you’ve been through. I’ve been through those motions before.
While Simmerling has been to two previous Olympics, this one will be vastly different. An alpine skier at Vancouver 2010 and a freestyle skier at Sochi 2014, Simmerling has traded in skis and mountains for a bike and velodrome.
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“It’s different. It’s a different sport. It’s a different season. I’m with a different team. I’m on different equipment. Honestly, I’m not really thinking about the other Olympics that I’ve been to. I’m pretty focused on the task at hand.”
Simmerling is still fairly new to the elite level of cycling, making her World Cup debut just past January where she, along with Glaesser, Brown and Steph Roorda, rode to gold in the team pursuit. Simmerling also won silver with Beveridge, Glaesser and Lay at the UCI World Championships this year.
Canada has consistently performed well in women’s team pursuit, medalling at every UCI World Championship since 2012. At London 2012, Glaesser, Tara Whitten and Gillian Carleton won Olympic bronze in the team pursuit.
At a practice event at the Milton Velodrome on July 29, Simmerling praised her teammates for helping her achieve her goal of making another Olympic Games.
“I came into this team really late and I knew on day one I wouldn’t have time to waste – and I still don’t. I have a lot of things that I need to learn and prefect. That’s the beauty of being on a team. Teammates help each other and we go through the same things together. These girls have literally taught me everything. I would not be here today if it wasn’t for my teammates, that’s for sure. I’m super excited about what we can accomplish in Rio because we’re capable of great things and we showed that today.”
The 27-year-old will make Canadian history at Rio 2016, becoming the first Canadian athlete to compete in three different sports at three different Olympic Games. Simmerling will also join the likes of Clara Hughes (speed skating and cycling) and Hayley Wickenheiser (softball and ice hockey) as Canadian women to compete in both the Summer and Winter Games.
While Simmerling’s focus is currently on cycling, she plans to be back on her skis less than a month after Rio.
“I just remind myself what I’m focusing on now and what my team is going to do. I know we are capable of amazing things. We’ve got three rides there. We know what we have to do and what we have to execute.”
Cycling takes place August 11-16 at the Rio Olympic Velodrome.