British Columbia

Tofino teen surfer makes history at Pan Am Games

Tofino surfer Mathea Olin, 16, won bronze for her event at the Pan Am Games — a first for Canada's surfing team.

'You're out there in mother ocean and anything can happen'

Mathea Olin competed at the Canadian National Surf Championships in Tofino, B.C., on May 12. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Canada isn't known as a top surfing country— but that could soon change.

Tofino surfer Mathea Olin,16, made history recently in Peru. She won a bronze medal for the women's longboard competition — the Canadian team's first surfing medal at the Pam Am Games. This was the first year surfing was included as a competitive sport at the Pan Am Games. 

"I'm feeling pretty happy," Olin told CBC All Points West host Robyn Burns.  

Olin grew up in Cox Bay in South Tofino, with the ocean in her backyard. She started surfing at the age of 10 and surfs every day.

She didn't necessarily think she would be a shoo-in at the games. 

'You're out there in mother ocean and anything can happen,' says Olin. (File/Getty Images)

"You're out there in mother ocean and anything can happen ... and even though I was feeling beyond ready and competent and excited, I ended up just sitting a little bit too long and not getting the waves." 

This is the second time Olin has made history. She won Canada's first international medals in surfing with a gold in women's longboard and bronze in shortboard at the 2017 Pan Am Surf Games.

Her mother, Dion Olin wasn't able to make it to Peru to cheer on her daughter, but she couldn't be prouder.

"I've kind of come to realize that with this journey, and with as much travelling as she's doing, I can't be everywhere all the time ... I was sad, but this is only the beginning for her," she said.

Their bond remains tight. Olin calls her mother before and after every heat.

"I'm also learning that sometimes I can be a better support from a distance ... I really trust her executing just everything she knows and who she is," she says proudly.

Mathea Olin, from Tofino, B.C., won Canada's first medals in international surfing at the 2017 Pan Am Surf Games. (Bryanna Bradley/Canadian Press)

The young surfer has a big month ahead. She will be heading to Miyazaki, Japan to compete with Team Canada at the International Surfing Association World Surfing Games. It's a big step for the qualifications for Tokyo 2020.

"There's no doubt in my mind she will at some point represent Canada in the Olympics ... she deserves every bit of it, I want her to enjoy the moment," her mom says.

For now, the surfer is looking forward to being home and going camping with her family.

Mathea Olin and her mother Dion Olin in conversation with Robyn Burns. 8:47

With files from All Points West

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