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Sailing to the Stars: Queen’s University Student, Olivia Mew, is Determined to Qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games

After competing in this year’s 2019 Pan American Games in Peru, Queen’s University student, Olivia Mew, is fiercely determined to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.

Growing up, Olivia had always been drawn to the idea of becoming an elite athlete. Prior to windsurfing she competed in sprint canoe for seven years and achieved several provincial titles. However, after an unfortunate injury at fifteen-years-old, Olivia had to redirect her focus and change her path with sport. Although distressing at the time, this new path however, would introduce Olivia to her love and passion for windsurfing. She said, “I was told I had a natural ability to windsurf, as I am a fast learner, and this kept me motivated to stay in the sport. As I continued to improve, the elite status just came along with my persistence - it was never something I had planned.”

2019 Miami Sailing World Cup, Miami USA.

Along with competing and placing 6th at the Pan Am Games, Olivia’s keenness and incredible audacity has led her to reach new heights with windsurfing. She is a four-time National champion (2015 - present);  finished 4th at the Weymouth World Cup in 2016; qualified for Canada a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games; and was ranked 51st in the world as of January 2017. 

Despite the ample challenges Olivia has faced throughout her time with this sport, these challenges would not impede her ability to work hard, be confident, and thrive with windsurfing.

2017 Miami Sailing World Cup, Miami USA.

Olivia has had to make incredible sacrifices and develop substantial resilience so that she can continue to follow her dreams. She said, “Over the years I have had to make a lot of sacrifices. These include missing family reunions, weddings, parties, etc. The commitment level is extremely high – my first priority when I am training is my sport, and everything else will come second to that, even family and friends. Competing in the Pan American Games and being able to represent your country internationally make all the sacrifices well worth it. I am truly blessed to be able to pursue my dream every day.”

Kingston, ON.

She has also been able to balance this sport with pursuing her Bachelor of Science Degree with a specialization in Kinesiology at Queen’s University. Fortunately, Queen’s has allowed her to extend her degree past the conventional four-year duration. She hopes to graduate in 2021 and plans to pursue further education in the fields of psychology or psychiatry.

2019 Pan American Games, Paracas Peru.

Olivia said, “In 2016, I was told I was not going to be selected to compete in the Olympics right before the Weymouth World Cup. This news was completely devastating – it broke my heart. I wasn’t even sure I would be able to compete, but I pushed through the bad news by having a great support team around me. I ended up achieving a personal best finish at this event, as I was reminded how much I love windsurfing, regardless of the outcome of going to the Olympics.”

In the face of such an immense adversity, Olivia’s determination and persistence has not subsided. She is determined to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games. No setback or limitation will crush Olivia’s bold and resilient spirit.

2019 Pan American Games, Lima Peru.

Olivia will have her chance to qualify at the World Championships in Torbole Italy this year. If not at this event, she will have one final opportunity to qualify at the Miami World Cup in January 2020.

Olivia said, “Success to me is following your passion and being able to do what you love every day.” Regardless if she qualifies or not, Olivia has been successful each day as she continues to dedicate over 35 hours a week training for what she loves most: windsurfing.

Training in Paros, Greece.

Presently, windsurfing is an unsupported class governed under the sport of sailing and as a result, her Olympic campaign is self-funded. Olivia has to fund every aspect of her campaign herself including event registration fees, new equipment, coaching fees, and more. She said, “Managing the finances behind an Olympic campaign is a full-time job in itself – but I’ve gotten a lot better at it over the years! With that being said, I am extremely grateful to the wonderful donors and supporters I have had in my campaign, I truly would not be able to do it without you all!” 

However, any additional funding will help. To support Olivia’s campaign, simply go to this link: www.oliviamew.ca 

In addition, check out Olivia’s Facebook and Instagram pages to keep updated on her windsurfing journey!




Hailey Rodgers is from a small town called Westport, Ontario and is in her third year of Commerce at Queen's University. She loves to travel, meet new people, and learn. Hailey's passion for adventure and sharing her experiences is illustrated in her writing. 
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