“My favourite thing about surfing is the feeling you get riding down a wave. You literally feel like you’re flying. It’s the best feeling in the world.”
Mathea Olin has long had Olympic dreams—first for gymnastics, then for surfing. In fact, she hopes to represent Canada when surfing makes its Olympic debut at the next summer games. Her mom taught her to surf at seven, and Mathea was soon placing at competitions in Tofino and around the world.
At just 14 years old, she competed in the Pan American Surf Games, winning a bronze medal for women’s shortboard and gold medal for longboard—Canada’s first-ever medals in international competition for surfing. Mathea’s performance also qualified her for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, where she won a bronze medal.
One of her favourite things about competing is the opportunity to travel the world and connect with other surfers. She’s been competing with the same girls since the beginning of her professional career, and considers them friends. “In the water, we keep our heads down because we all want to win. But on land, we can set the competition aside and be really good friends.”
Besides her Olympic aspirations, Mathea wants to carry this spirit of sisterhood forward, inspiring the next generation of female surfers in Canada. That includes her literal sister, Sanoa, who’s two years younger than Mathea and against whom she often competes. “She’s going to do amazing things,” Mathea says of Sanoa.
“Surfing is this sport where you have people of all ages supporting each other,” she says. “And it’s exciting and inspiring to see where the next generation will take surfing. I love taking all the younger girls in Tofino out and trying to get them hooked on it.”