Surf Canada takes on world’s top surfers for a final chance to qualify for Tokyo Olympics
ISA World Surfing Games run from May 29-June 6 in El Salvador
It’s game on for Tofino surfers Mathea Olin and Kalum Temple Bruhwiler.
The 2021 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games kicks off May 29 across two surf breaks in El Salvador (El Sunzal and La Bocana), and the Team Canada athletes are pumped to slip back on the contest jerseys.
With the event being the final qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics, the homegrown Vancouver Island surfers could very well take one of 12 remaining spots – 5 spots for the men and 7 for women. 28 of the 40 surfers to compete in Tokyo 2020 have already provisionally qualified.
“It’s going to be a real battle for those last 12 spots. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we put in the time to get them as prepared as possible,” said Surf Canada president Dom Domic.
Olin, 18, and Temple Bruhwiler, 21, have been training in El Salvador since the start of April. Coached by Shannon Brown, the other four members of the Canadian surf team are Hawaii-based pro surfer Cody Young, Australian-Canadian Shane Campbell, Californian-Canadian Bethany Zelasko and Hawaii big wave surfer Paige Alms.
“We’ve been getting up at 5 a.m. every day and going until 9 p.m. just training. Video reviewing, high performance reviews, working with various sports consultants. It’s full on,” said Domic.
The ISA World Surfing Games is nine full days of competition. There are over 255 surfers from 52 nations vying for the remaining spots, and in order to have a hope of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, Domic thinks they will have to make it to at least Day 7.
“If you’re out before that, you have no hope. Heat draw will be a big component as well. Strategically [Canada] is well positioned as the 10th ranked country. We will avoid surfing against the top countries in the first round,” said Domic.
Kalum Temple Bruhwiler right at home in his preferred setting. (Liam MacDonald photo)
Leading up to the April pre-training camp in El Salvador, Canada’s reigning cold water king Peter Devries succumbed to an injury, which opened up the door for Temple Bruhwiler to take his place.
“I’m very grateful to have a chance at competing for Canada in the Olympics through this qualifying event. It came at a cost for our Canadian champion Pete, and I feel for him having to pull out for injury, but he has given me his blessing and I’m going to try my best to do him proud,” Temple Bruhwiler wrote in a message to the Westerly.
As for training, Temple Bruhwiler said he’s been putting lots of focus into my overall wave and session management, as well as improving his mindset leading up to the contest.
Olin, who won Canada’s first ever international surf medals at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru, says she’s sticking to a fluid game plan.
“Just take it all in as it comes and to be OK with everything. I feel like this event is going to be very different due to these [pandemic] times so not to have any high expectations and just enjoy the journey and be as prepared as I can be,” Olin wrote.
She said it didn’t take her too long to acclimatize and for 30C water temperatures to feel ‘normal’.
“It definitely takes a few surfs to find your feet with no neoprene on. But after a week or so you feel normal again. Just takes a few wipe outs and laughs, but the transition is pretty easy when you’re in the sun surfing pumping waves,” Olin notes.
Domic thinks Team Canada is more than prepared for game day, but only time will tell who gets to book that ticket to Tokyo.
“Sport is the only real reality TV. You can’t script it. It happens in the twenty-minutes of every heat,” he said.
Fans can cheer Team Canada on via the livecast on isasurf.org from May 29 to June 6 and follow SurfCanada @csasurfcanada on Instagram for updates and heat schedules.