Head to Loki’s Garage for a bite to eat and you’ll probably catch some Olympic buzz at the Front Street restaurant.
That’s because Loki’s, in downtown Penticton, is sponsoring Canada’s only triple multi-sport Canadian Olympian Georgia Simmerling on her journey to a podium finish at the Tokyo, Japan Olympics.
Loki’s Garage owner Luke Walsh is backing Simmerling as she looks to once again medal with the Canadian cycling team, after taking a bronze medal for Canada in the 2016 Rio Games.
“I’ve known Georgia since she was born. We are family friends. She’s been such an inspiration to watch over four Olympics in skiing, ski-cross and now cycling,” said Walsh who is putting up a big screen at Loki’s in time for Simmerling’s races.
He’s hoping people will come down and cheer on Canada during the Olympics which go from July 23 to Aug. 8.
“My claim to fame of knowing her is I babysat an Olympic athlete and now we are sponsoring an Olympic athlete,” said Walsh. “It’s a natural fit for the area we are in and the sport she is in. Cycling is huge here with the Granfondo and Iron Man and her grandparents live in Naramata.
“Inspiration is part of her story, the courage, the recovery and dedication,” he adds.
Simmerling is currently training with her teammates in Ontario before leaving for Japan.
Her first qualifying race is Aug. 1. It can be viewed at 11 p.m. Pacific time.
“I’m honoured that Luke is sponsoring me,” said Simmerling, who spoke to the Western News from Ontario.
Simmerling made history at the 2016 Olympics in Rio by becoming the first Canadian athlete to compete in a different sport at each of three different Olympic Games. In Rio, she helped Canada win its second straight Olympic bronze medal with the cycling team.
Simmerling made her Olympic debut in alpine skiing at Vancouver in 2010 before switching over to ski cross in 2011. In February 2012, she caught an edge during a race and fell, breaking three vertebrae in her neck and back. She was in an upper body and neck brace for seven weeks but did not require surgery. She returned to competition in December 2012 and earned her the first World Cup podium of her career later in the month.
This will be her fourth Olympics, fifth if she didn’t break both her legs and tear every ligament in her knee during ski-cross.
In January 2018, just days before she would have been named to the Olympic team for PyeongChang 2018, Simmerling crashed during a World Cup race in Nakiska, breaking both of her legs in three places and tearing multiple ligaments, requiring four surgeries.
Walsh said when he thinks of what Simmerling has been through and persevered, it’s inspiring.
“If I’m having a bad day, I think of Georgia and how she pushed on, and think to myself, ‘I can do this,’” said Walsh.
Now Simmerling’s entirely set on getting a medal for Canada.
“All my focus is on Tokyo and getting on that podium,” she said.
Simmerling’s first Olympics were in her then hometown of Vancouver, which she said was the ‘cream of the crop’ of Olympics to participate in.
“I was pretty lucky to experience my first Olympics in the city I lived in. The energy there was amazing,” she said.
With COVID-19 dominating these Games, Simmerling said the one positive is it makes the athletes focus strictly on the Games and competing. There are no distractions.
“I’m really excited. We have a strong team and we’re ready to win,” she said.
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