After winning Canadian citizenship, teenage surfer Erin Brooks misses out on Olympics

After winning her battle for Canadian citizenship earlier this year, teenage surfer Erin Brooks won't be wearing the Maple Leaf at the Paris Olympics.

Brooks has been eliminated at the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games, the final Olympic qualifier that wraps up Sunday in Puerto Rico.

Brooks, one of six Canadians competing, was knocked out of Round 2 by France's Vahiné Fierro and then eliminated in Thursday's repechage round.

Canadians Sanoa Dempfle-Olin, who is provisionally qualified for the Olympics by virtue of her win at last year's Pan American Games in Chile, and Cody Young are still in contention.

The other Canadians have been eliminated.

The top eight women and top six men qualify for the Olympics, whose surfing event is set for July 27 to Aug. 4 in Tahiti, French Polynesia.

It marks the second time surfing has been part of the Olympics. Canada did not have a surfer at the Tokyo Olympics 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.

The 16-year-old 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.

Her 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.

The Puerto Rico field features 27 of the 40 Olympians who competed in Tokyo, including women's gold medallist Carissa Moore (U.S.) and bronze medallist Amuro Tsuzuki (Japan) and men's silver medallist Kanoa Igarashi (Japan).

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2024

The Canadian Press