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Canada's Sanoa Olin confirmed for Olympic surfing event, Cody Young to be a reserve

Sanoa Olin will represent Canada in surfing at the Paris Olympics this summer with Cody Young a second reserve for the men's field.

Olin, a native of Tofino, B.C., who turns 19 on Tuesday, was already provisionally qualified for the Olympics by virtue of her earning a silver medal at last year's Pan American Games in Chile. But she confirmed her place by finishing tied for 13th at the ISA World Surfing Games, the final Olympic qualifier that wrapped up Sunday in Puerto Rico.

The top eight women booked their ticket to Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia, which will host the Olympic surfing event starting July 27. But Olin's 13th-place finish in Puerto Rico qualified her irrespective of her Pan Am Games performance given some of the women ahead of her were already headed to the Olympics.

"She's a championship-level surfer with the scores to prove it," said Dom Domic, executive director of Surf Canada. "There's a lot of positive takeaways for her … She's so fired up to go to Tahiti."

The positive for Surf Canada is a Canadian will be in the Olympic field, which will raise the profile of the sport.

Young also finished tied for 13th but with only the top six men in Puerto Rico qualifying for the Olympics, he finds himself on the outside looking in as the second reserve in case any of the confirmed athletes has to withdraw due to injury or other reasons.

Domic said Young will be on site in Tahiti, to be ready if called.

Canada did not have a surfer at the Tokyo Olympics, which marked the sport's debut at the games, although Young came close. The Hawaii-based athlete got a last-minute call-up to the Tokyo games due to a COVID-related opening but was unable to make it to Japan in time to compete.

This time around, the 24-year-old Young was knocked out of contention by a French surfer late in the competition.

"Obviously (he's) super-disappointed," Domic said of Young. "It's going to leave some scar tissue … It's very very competitive on the male side. The depth of talent is very very deep and there's less (qualifying) spots available, compared to the women. There's only six spots available. If there were eight spots, he'd be in. That shows how close he came."

There was also disappointment for 16-year-old Erin Brooks who was looking to qualify after winning her battle for Canadian citizenship earlier this year.

Brooks was knocked out of Round 2 by France's Vahiné Fierro and then eliminated in Thursday's repechage round. She finished tied for 49th.

"She'll come out tougher, stronger and better for it," said Domic.

Levi Young, Cody's younger brother, was tied for 31st while Wheeler Hasburgh was tied for 55th. Mathea Olin, Sanoa's older sister, finished 41st.

Brooks was born in Texas and grew up in Hawaii but has Canadian ties through her American-born father Jeff, who is a dual American-Canadian citizen, and her grandfather who was born and raised in Montreal.

She turned heads by winning a silver medal at the ISA World Surfing Games in El Salvador last June and gold at the ISA World Junior Championships in June 2022.

Brooks's application for Canadian citizenship was initially rejected. But Immigration Minister Marc Miller had a change of heart after a December ruling by Ontario's Superior Court of Justice that it is unconstitutional for Canada to deny automatic citizenship to the children of foreign-born Canadians who grew up abroad.

The Brooks family then refiled their application under a hardship status, based on the recommendation of the Immigration Department, to accelerate the process.

Brooks was sworn in as a Canadian citizen in January.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2024

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press