Conversations with a Future Olympian: Tofino’s Mathea Olin
Photo by Kyler Vos, courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool
Mathea is one half of the rad Tofino-raised duo of sibling surfers, The Olin Sisters. Together with her sister Sanoa, the couple has cut their teeth in the Pacific Ocean since they were toddlers. Now, Mathea has sights set on the Olympics, and she might just do it. As a 14 year old, she won Canada’s first surfing medals (gold and bronze) in international competition at the 2017 Pan American Surf Games. She is on track to represent Canada at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and we are proud to support both her and her sister on that track, and also locally. Because even the Olympic Games begin with having fun at home. We chatted with Mathea recently to catch up on how home has shaped her, and what the future holds.
You moved to Tofino when you were very young. What was it that drew your mom to the coast, and how has she shared that allure with you?
I’ve actually lived here since I was six months old. My mom actually had a crush on a surfer boy and followed him here for the summer and actually ended up falling in love with what the west coast had to offer. She ended up starting Clayoquot Wilderness Resort and then wanted to raise her kids here, outside in nature.
Your sister Sanoa is also a successful surfer. How does your relationship affect your development as an athlete?
I definitely would not be where I am without my sister pushing me every day to be a better human and surfer. I have a sister that I can travel around the world to compete with and I couldn’t ask for a better partner to do it with. We make so many memories together! For competing, of course, it sucks when your little sister beats you. But there is no one else I’d rather see succeed than Sanoa! We are both very competitive and that’s what has gotten both of us this far. We push each other in every aspect in life and I think that’s why we have both achieved this level. I love my sister so much.
The Olympics has been pushed back a year, and it was and is a giant goal for you. Do you think there are any silver linings to the Games being postponed?
Definitely. I think the Olympics being postponed means I have an extra year to mature in myself and in my surfing. I think I’ll be more prepared and hungry to compete when the time comes around.
You spend time training in Mexico and Hawaii. Other than the obvious difference in weather and warmth, what are the advantages to training elsewhere?
Yes, I spend a few months every year in Hawaii, taking a break from the cold winter months in Tofino. Spending some time in warm waters feels really good on your body. You get to surf world-class waves all day and be surrounded by some of the best surfers in the world. Just by watching, you end up taking your surfing to the next level. I’ve gone to Hawaii every year now for practically my whole life. It feels like a second home now.
Tofino is a land and sea of adventure. Besides surfing, what adventures do you get up to?
Me and my family have a boat and we love getting out on the water and exploring as much as we can. My family actually just bought a property on Nootka island so we are planning on building an off-grid cabin up there. We learn a lot about our coastline and all the waves it has to offer.
Who were and are your biggest influences?
Growing up, my biggest influence has always been my mom. She inspires me to the best human I can be, and to really live and achieve your dreams. Growing up in Tofino, Pete Devries has always been and will always be one of my greatest influences. He’s such an insane surfer and has so much knowledge on swells, waves, etc.
Rank these beaches: Cox, Long Beach, Rosie, North Chesterman, South Chesterman, NunyaBusiness Beach
Definitely NunyaBusiness beach for first place. Second goes to Cox. Third to North Chesterman. Fourth to Long Beach, Rosie fifth, and South Chesterman last.
If someone was coming to visit Tofino for the first time, what five activities would you recommend?
Definitely rent a wetsuit and get yourself in the ocean surfing. Go out on a boat, either whale watching, fishing, or to the hot springs. Go for hike or even just a beach walk. Enjoy some of the amazing restaurants Tofino has to offer.
Looking way forward into the future, at the end of a long career and life spent surfing, what would be your greatest accomplishment?
Mainly to just be happy and healthy surrounded by my loved ones!
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