“For me when I’m on the beach preparing for my heat, I have tons of nerves and butterflies but as soon as I get in the water, they are all gone and I know it’s game time. The ocean settles my nerves and I just go out there and do what I always do,” Mathea Dempfle-Olin said about the feeling she gets before heading out for a surf.
At 14 years of age, Dempfle-Olin became the first person to win Canada’s first surfing medals in international competition. At the 2017 Pan American Games in Peru, Dempfle-Olin won bronze in shortboard competition and gold in longboard competition.
“Being so young and getting to experience winning a medal for your country and hearing the Canadian anthem getting played is the best feeling ever,” Dempfle-Olin recalled.
“Feeling all the hard work pay off is also an amazing feeling but it also only makes you want to go back and work harder so you can achieve your goals again and have that same feeling of succeeding,” she added.
Dempfle-Olin came down with a case of food poisoning at those games but it gave her a valuable lesson.
“I learnt a lot about how much it takes to win even when things aren’t perfect,” she said.
Growing up in Tofino, BC, right by the ocean, gave Dempfle-Olin the chance to get into the sport of surfing at a young age.
“I got into surfing because I lived right on the beach and my family, friends, would all just go hang out at the beach everyday so it was part of my everyday life growing up,” she said.
Dempfle-Olin then took the step into competitive surfing at the age of 10.
“I only did like one or two local comps a year but what I love about competing is all the adrenaline and nerves you get and how you have to overcome all your emotions and perform! When I got a little older, I started to travel to compete and that made me love competing even more,” she said.
Dempfle-Olin’s first global competition came in 2015 when she represented Canada at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships.
“I really got to see where surfing was at, and the level I had to be at, if I wanted to do well,” Dempfle-Olin reminisced.
“I made quarter finals that year but there were some girls competing that were just insane so that inspired me to come home and work even harder to get to that next level,” she added.
In 2019, at the Canadian Surfing Championships at Wickaninnish Beach, Dempfle-Olin competed in the girl’s U18, placing second, and then placed fourth in the open women’s event, all while competing against her sister Sanoa.
“My sister and I are super competitive in the water, we both want to win but at the end of the day we wouldn’t want to see anyone else succeed than each other,” Dempfle-Olin said about competing against her sister.
Dempfle-Olin was also named to Canada’s first Pan Am surfing team in 2019 and got the chance to travel to Lima, Peru where she would take home bronze in competition.
“I had such an amazing time meeting everyone, watching other incredible athletes perform and win medals for Team Canada and I felt so proud to be around so many talented athletes who have all shared a similar journey,” Dempfle-Olin said.
So far, Dempfle-Olin’s surfing career has taken her to the USA, Peru, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Portugal, Japan, Australia, Fiji, Germany and the Maldives, and while she has surfed at a number of beaches, her favourite beach to surf at is her home beach, Cox Bay.
As surfing is a sport that requires you to stay mentally focused, Dempfle-Olin’s biggest adversity has been motivation.
“In Canada you don’t have the same surf environment as, say, kids in California so it really takes a lot of self-motivating,” Dempfle-Olin explained.
Her challenge of self-motivation has allowed her to grow as a surfer as well though.
“I think I’ve realized how important it is to stay true to yourself. I’ve grown mentally, physically and have had to over come a lot of self doubt which has been huge for me,” Dempfle-Olin said.
Through it all, Dempfle-Olin takes pride in being able to represent her country in the sport she loves.
“Surfing isn’t huge in Canada yet, so being able to represent Canada internationally and make Canadian surfing more known is incredible. Being able to represent your home and the place we all love so much is incredible,” Dempfle-Olin said.
And when she’s out in the water, Dempfle-Olin feels like she’s home.
“Getting to be out in nature everyday, and escape all the drama that can go on on land. When you’re surfing you are almost in your own little world and it’s the place I get to call home.”