Australian Olympians who went on to start their own businesses

Michael Klim

Source: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

They’ve represented their country on the world stage and brought home swags of gold, silver and bronze medals. But many Australian Olympians have also gone on to run their own businesses after their professional sporting careers have come to end.

From selling skincare products and clothing, to running cafes and restaurants, these elite sportspeople have applied the same commitment and dedication they displayed in the pool and on the field to building their own business.

As members of Australia’s current Olympic team puts the final touches on their preparations for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, which kicks off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this weekend, we’ve rounded up some of the Australian Olympians who have gone on to start or run their own business.

Michael Klim

Polish-born Australian swimmer Michael Klim competed in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics, scooping up two gold medals, three silver and one bronze.

After retiring from professional swimming, Klim founded skincare company Milk & Co as a line of men’s skincare products in 2008. A year later, his former wife Lindy Klim identified an opportunity to develop a range of natural skincare products specifically for babies and ‘Milk Baby’ was launched. A range of skincare products for women was launched in 2013.

Milk & Co products are stocked in 13 countries around the world and the business turns over more than $5 million a year, according to Fairfax.

Dawn Fraser

Olympic gold medal swimmer Dawn Fraser was the licensee of the Riverview Hotel in Balmain, Sydney, from 1978 to 1983.

Fraser represented Australia in the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games, winning gold at all three games in the 100 metre freestyle event.

Ian Thorpe

Another Australian Olympic swimmer to pursue business opportunities is five-time gold medal winner Ian Thorpe, who represented Australia at the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics.

Thorpe has been involved in a number of business ventures, including designing and launching his own range of underwear called “it”, which was at one point stocked in David Jones department stores. In 2002, Thorpe launched a line of jewellery through Autore Pearls. This year, he got tongues wagging after posting a tweet suggesting he was starting his own pool cleaning company.

However, Thorpe is not diving into the pool cleaning industry any time soon, with the tweet is part of a campaign by Optus to send four small business owners to the Rio Games.

Alisa Camplin

Aerial skier Alisa Camplin won gold for Australia at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, following up with a bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

After retiring from professional competition in 2006, Camplin launched her own ski touring company, Alisa Camplin Ski Tours, which involved guided skiing tours to US resorts such as Aspen and Steamboat Springs.

Camplin also spent 16 years as an executive for IBM and is a director on several boards, including the Collingwood Football Club.

Eamon Sullivan, Steve Hooker and Jamie Dwyer

Swimmer Eamon Sullivan, pole vaulter Steve Hooker and hockey star Jamie Dwyer may have represented Australia in three different sports but the trio appear to have formed a winning team in the hospitality industry, with their Perth restaurant Bib and Tucker.

Sullivan, who swam for Australia at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics and picked up two silver and one bronze medal, also owns two other restaurants in Perth: Louis Baxter and May St Larder, and won the 2010 Celebrity Masterchef television series.

Hooker won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Oympics, while Dwyer has a gold medal from the 2004 Athens Games, and bronze medals from Beijing and London. Dwyer will be representing Australia again in the men’s hockey tournament in Rio.

Hayley Lewis

Swimmer Hayley Lewis has run multiple small businesses and is even the author of a book of business tips, called Dream Believe Create: A Woman’s Guide to Small Business.

After winning silver and bronze medals for Australia in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and competing in the 2000 Olympics, Lewis launched the Hayley Lewis Swim School in 2001.

But the swim school, which closed in 2010, was not Lewis’s first business venture or her last. Her first two attempts at running small businesses involved a dog-walking service and selling cushions at markets. Lewis also ran her own gift shop in Brisbane called Coming Up Roses.

Anton Grimus

Winter Olympian Anton Grimus grew up in business household, with his family running Austrian-style pension, ski hire and restaurant, the Hotel Pension Grimus, at Mt Buller in Victoria. Grimus owns a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop, located at the the Hotel Pension Grimus, called Grimus Grind.

Grimus represented Australia at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, where he competed in the men’s Ski Cross event.

Shane Gould

Australian Shane Gould holds the honour of being the only swimmer to hold all freestyle records at the same time. Competing in the 1972 Olympic Games, Gould won three gold medals, one silver and one bronze.

Gould lives in Tasmania, where she owns and operates Beach End Bicheno Accomodation on the state’s east coast.

Do you know of other Australian Olympians who have run their own business? Let us know in the comments below. 


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the wordmistress
5 years ago

Swimmer Samantha Riley competed in two Olympics (Barcelona and Atlanta) and won 3 medals. She owns the Sam Riley Swim Schools in Brisbane.

Andy Green
Andy Green
5 years ago

Lydia Lassila – Body Ice