‘Adapt and move forward:’ Skateboarder Matt Berger on delayed Olympics

Published 2020-05-18 07:00

All competitions delayed until athletes can travel safely

Matt Berger is on top of the Canadian skateboarding world.

Ranked No. 1 in the country, he’s likely to be one of the first Canadian skateboarders to compete at the Olympics.

Skateboarding will be featured for the first time at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and Berger is on track to qualify.

But right now, he’s waiting, as the Games have been postponed until July 2021 and all competitions are on hold.

“I was definitely disappointed,” he said about finding out the Games were put off. But he’s not letting it bring him down.

“My whole headspace has always been, you have to adapt and move forward,” Berger added in an interview with CBC Kids News from his home in Huntington Beach, California, south of Los Angeles.

The 26-year-old is originally from Kamloops, B.C., but has been living in Southern California for the past six years, since “it’s the mecca of the skateboarding industry.”

California, like most of Canada, has shut down public spaces, shops and restaurants.

“If you get caught even going to public parks on a hike or things like that, you can get a fine,” Berger said.

That means he has to be creative to keep up his sport.

He’s skateboarding in his backyard and in the streets, finding places to practise.


He’s also keeping fit by training at a private gym that only he and his personal trainer use, “taking all the precautions.”

Berger recognized that compared to other Canadian athletes, he’s lucky to be able to keep practising his sport.

“In all honesty, the lockdown has been as good as it possibly could be for me, so I’m feeling very grateful, no doubt,” he said.

“It's time to tap into your creativity and see what you can do to have fun in these boring times and make a game of it. If there's no other options, video games are fine by me.”

But the future is still uncertain, as Berger still has to compete in at least four events in different parts of the world in order to qualify for the Games.

“Everything so far this year, event-wise, has been cancelled until further notice,” he said. “If restrictions lift and basically you're able to fly anywhere in the world, there will be a 60-day buffer period before they have their first event. We'd have 60 days to prep.”

But that could take a while, depending on how the coronavirus affects different countries.

“Every single [athlete] needs to have the ability to leave their country and fly out,” he said.

He’s also using his time to go for bike rides and is playing the video game Call of Duty.

And he’s excited to be featured on a box of one of his favourite cereals, Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

A man looks out from behind a cereal box featuring pro skateboarder Matt Berger on it



Favourite song right now: Friends by Levitation Room. Favourite coronavirus snack: Cinnamon Toast Crunch. “A little treat for myself in the morning here and there. Not every day, though.” First thing he wants to do when physical distancing is over: Have a bunch of friends over for a barbecue.

Check out these other articles about what Olympic hopefuls are doing during COVID-19:

About the Contributor

Arjun Ram
Arjun Ram
CBC Kids News Contributor
Arjun Ram is a Grade 11 French immersion student from Hamilton, Ont., with many diverse interests such as sports, music and math. Arjun has developed an interest in reporting on social and political issues as well as important developments in the area of professional sports. He hopes to one day work as a news anchor for CBC.

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