ISA/Pablo Jimenez
ISA/Pablo Jimenez

Day 10 at Santiago 2023: Dempfle-Olin surfs into Team Canada history books

Team Canada started off the last week of the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games with a history-making moment on the waves by a teenager from Tofino.

Meanwhile, the fencing piste was the site of something not seen for Team Canada at the Pan Am Games since 2011 and seven more medals were added to the tally.

Here’s a look at Day 10’s top headlines:

Surfing: Dempfle-Olin set to become Canada’s first surfing Olympian

Sanoa Dempfle-Olin provisionally secured her spot at Paris 2024 this morning when she advanced to the final of the women’s shortboard competition. Dempfle-Olin qualified for the Olympics as the top-ranked surfer at the Pan Am Games who was not already qualified in the event. As with all surfing spots, her qualification is provisional, pending her participation in the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games.

Following her defeat of Costa Rica’s Leilani McGonagle to get into the final, Team Canada’s surfing contingent ran into the ocean to celebrate the 18-year-old’s historic accomplishment.

“It feels unreal. Earning this spot is a dream come true for me. I honestly can’t believe it. I just feel super grateful for my family, my friends, and my whole team,” she said of the Olympic qualification.

“The semifinal heat that had me qualify into the Olympics was super stressful and challenging. It’s almost hard to remember, I was so in the zone. The waves were very big. I was able to start the heat off pretty quickly, then get back up to the line up and get another wave shortly after. I had a 10 point total from that point on. The heat was winding down quickly so I was able to sit on the other surfer under priority and just let the time tick away,” Dempfle-Olin explained.

“I’ve been lucky enough to go and train in Tahiti two times,” she said about the Olympic venue after being handed her golden ticket. “I love it there. I love surfing there. I’m excited to get more reps in and just really improve my surfing.”

Though Dempfle-Olin was ecstatic, she couldn’t celebrate too hard as she still had one more heat to compete in, facing reigning world champion, Tatiana Weston Webb of Brazil, who Dempfle-Olin describes as “an amazing surfer.”

In that gold medal heat, Dempfle-Olin couldn’t match Weston Webb’s two-wave score of 12.33 as she earned 10.13 to take home the silver medal. She joins older sister Mathea, who won longboard bronze at Lima 2019, as a Pan Am Games medallist.

Finn Spencer snagged Team Canada’s first medal of Day 10 in the men’s SUP surfing event. Spencer’s two waves combined to a score of 9.66, falling short of Brazilian Luiz Diniz’s 15.17.

Judo: El Nahas has a golden day

Shady El Nahas took gold in the men’s 100kg judo class. El Nahas won by Ippon after 3 minutes and 38 seconds of combat with Thomas Briceño of Chile. Not only did El Nahas have to contend with his competitor in the final, but also a crowd that was cheering for the hometown athlete.

“I’m just proud,” El Nahas said afterwards. “I came from Abu Dhabi [Grand Slam] and I won a medal there, so I was already sore and injured. I came here and I was like no injury, no time limit, no jet lag is going to stop me from winning.”

This Canada’s fifth judo medal in Santiago but the first one that is gold after two silvers and two bronze.

“I think it just shows that Judo Canada is an amazing team and we’re striving for greatness,” El Nahas said. “I live by the code, ‘dare to be great’ and I dared to be great today.”

El Nahas, who is ranked fifth in the world in the 100kg weight class, made his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 where he made it to a bronze medal match.

Fencing: French gold leads three-medal day

The Canadians showed up in full force on the first day of fencing at Santiago 2023.

Both Dylan French and Eleanor Harvey battled their way to their ninth bouts of the day as they contested for the gold medals in men’s individual épée and women’s individual foil, respectively.

French earned Canada’s first fencing gold of the Games with a 15-12 win over Chilean home favourite, Pablo Núñez. Tied at six after the first period, French put up nine points in the second period to win Canada’s first Pan Am Games gold medal in any individual fencing event since Guadalajara 2011 when Philippe Beaudry won the men’s sabre. It is just Canada’s fourth ever individual fencing gold at the Pan Ams, the other three all in the men’s sabre event.

“It’s an incredible experience,” French said. “I’m so happy to be here and so happy to have my teammates and coaches here as well…I love them all so much. We’re really a tight group, we’re good friends, we train together, so it’s incredible.”

Harvey earned silver after facing a very tough foe in her final — world number one and reigning Olympic champion, Lee Kiefer of the United States. Harvey had kept it close in the first period, which Kiefer won 8-6. But the American took control in the second period, putting up seven unanswered points to win it 15-6.

Harvey was joined on the podium by 18-year-old teammate Jessica Guo, who will take home a bronze medal. She made it as far as the semifinals where she ran into Kiefer, one of her fencing heroes, and was defeated 15-8.

“Every time I face [Kiefer] I learn something new,” Guo said afterwards. “She changes every time she fences so there was no plan going into it. It would be great to beat her next time!”

Table Tennis: Wang & Zhang team up for bronze

Team Canada secured bronze in the mixed doubles event after Eugene Wang and Mo Zhang lost their semifinal match to Team Brazil 4-2 (9-11, 5-11, 12-10, 4-11, 11-6, 8-11). They had come to Santiago as the defending Pan Am Games champions.

“We still have more events to compete in, so we need to forget and refresh our heads,” Wang said afterwards. Both he and Zhang kicked off their singles events later in the day and advanced to the Round of 16 with victories, as did teammate Edward Ly.

Zhang is competing at her fifth Pan American Games and now has seven career medals.

Field Hockey: Canadian women onto semis

The Canadian women’s field hockey team took down Mexico 5-0 in their final match of pool play. That gave them a 2-1 record to rank them second in their group and sends them on to the semifinals to face Argentina, the top-ranked team in the region. The team that wins this tournament will secure their Paris 2024 qualification.

“It feels nice to execute as a team,” said veteran team member, Karli Johansen, who scored three goals off penalty corners. “We haven’t had that many corners in the tournament, so definitely looking to draw more corners and convert more of them. We stayed really connected today. We just need to pick up the tempo a bit.”

Other Team Canada News:

  • Sailing: Sarah Douglas is ranked second in the ILCA 6 after the first five races for that class. She sits at seven points, counting one win and three second-place finishes. Ali ten Hove and Mariah Millen are third in the 49er FX after four races while Will Jones and Justin Barnes are third in the 49er after six races. Lee Parkhill sits third in the Sunfish after five races.
  • Athletics: Grace Konrad and Madeline Price have advanced to the final of the women’s 400m from the first day of track and field.
Brandie Wilkerson and Melissa Humana-Paredes carry the Canadian flag in front of their teammates

Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games Hub

Stay up to date on the latest news, results and more from Team Canada.