History was made on last week at Wickaninnish Beach as six athletes were named to the first-ever surf team that will represent Canada as they vie for a place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic men’s and women’s shortboard events.
Shane Campbell, Cody Young, and Peter Devries will represent Canada on the men’s side. Paige Alms, Bethany Zelasko, and Mathea Dempfle-Olin were named to the women’s team. Sean Foerster and Hanna Scott are the alternates.
Campbell, a professional surfer living in Sydney, Australia, was invited to try out for Team Canada Surf by the event organizers. He went on to win the Olympic Team trials and placed second in the open men’s shortboard division of the Rip Curl Nationals.
“I just came over to surf a couple heats with the boys and meet everyone. I’m gonna take it one event at a time and we’ll see how it goes,” said Campbell, who was born in Vancouver, B.C.
Maui-based professional surfer Cody Young was runner up in the Olympic Team trials and third in the Rip Curl Nationals.
“I’m super happy to qualify for the Olympic pathway team. I just want to thank everybody in Tofino and Ucluelet and the rest of Canada for welcoming me. You know, I’m Canadian, but I live somewhere else, so it’s a little bit weird when I come here maybe, but everyone’s been so nice and welcoming,” said Young, adding that his dad is from Toronto and he spent a lot of time in Canada as a child.
Reigning National men’s champion and Tofino local Peter Devries placed third at the team trial event on May 14. A couple days before the trials, Devries claimed his ninth National title in a hotly contested final against Campbell, Young, and Foerster.
“Thanks for all the support. I really enjoyed the support over the weekend. It’s a pretty special experience on the [finals] day there. It was a pretty grueling five days. I’m exhausted. I’m happy it’s over and happy to take a little break here and then get back to work,” Devries told the Westerly News after the team trial event.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do before any of us qualify for the Olympics, but I’m excited about the team that we have and a lot of great surfers representing Canada,” said Devries.
Immediately following the Rip Curl Nationals and Olympic Team trials, Tofino’s Mathea Dempfle-Olin hopped on a flight to Costa Rica for another surf competition.
“After a few long days of competition, I’m completely stoked to be representing Canada on the women’s Olympic trial team, and the National U16 and U18 team,” Dempfle-Olin posted on her Instagram page.
“Thanks everyone who was there for me throughout the weekend. You know who you are,” said Dempfle-Olin, who won Canada’s first international surf medals at the 2017 Pan American Games in Peru.
The sport of surfing makes its Olympic debut at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. There will be 20 men and 20 women competing in shortboard division only. If surfing is included in future Olympic Games, other divisions like longboard and SUP surfing could be contested.
Tofino’s Mathea Dempfle-Olin prepares for the U16 girls final of the 2019 Rip Curl Nationals. Mathea went on to win the U16 division. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)