Town of The Blue Mountains resident Tim Oliver is making waves in the world of stand-up paddleboard racing (SUP).
Following his victory in the Canadian SUP Championships in Collingwood on August 12 and 13, Oliver is now set to represent Canada in the International Canoe Federation (ICF) SUP World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand, from November 15 to 19.
“I am stoked to be going to this year’s competition,” he said. Having competed in last year's championship in Poland, Oliver finds the draw of Thailand’s warm waters particularly appealing.
Before his involvement in SUP, Oliver pursued a career in competitive cycling, primarily in mountain biking, which he began at a young age. However, as he approached his mid-20s, the financial viability of a full-time career in cycling became uncertain, and he started to explore other options.
He pursued his university studies and later completed his teaching degree when an interesting job offer came his way. Oliver was asked to work as a sales representative for one of the bike companies he had previously raced for, so he decided to step away from full-time racing and remain in the industry on the sales side of things.
“That led me to stay active and fit and continue cycling, just not competitively,” he said.
However, the arrival of his first child prompted a new shift in priorities and gone were the days of spending three or four hours riding a bicycle. Searching for a more time-efficient way to stay active, he stumbled upon stand-up paddleboarding.
“I wanted to try my first race, and after I did, I wanted to get better so I wasn’t getting beat but instead I was the one leading,” he said.
Living in an area with ideal conditions for both flatwater and wave-based races, Oliver transitioned from a recreational paddler to a competitive athlete.
“I had experience with board sports on the water, so it was really combining my ability to stand on a board and then learning the technique,” he said. “That’s what drove me to get better at it.”
The national championships occurred during the annual Side Launch Days in Collingwood, and Oliver emerged as a champion in multiple disciplines. In the long-distance race, covering a 22-kilometre course from Thornbury to Collingwood, he completed reached the finish line in approximately two hours.
“Having a home-court advantage is never a bad thing, so I was able to capitalize on knowledge of the water, wind and wave patterns to pull off a couple of titles,” he said.
The win not only solidified his status as a respected SUP athlete but also paved the way for him to represent Canada in the SUP World Championships. The opportunity, however, comes with its own set of challenges, particularly in the sport of SUP, where athletes receive limited financial or logistical support from their national organizations.
“It is really self-funded, which is a big challenge in the sport,” he said.
To help cover the costs, Oliver’s father launched a GoFundMe campaign titled "Help Tim Oliver go to SUP World Championships." This fundraiser allows friends, supporters, and local businesses to extend their support and help Oliver achieve his dream of competing at the international level.
“I am slightly older than the average professional athlete, so being able to live out this dream of being a water athlete and travelling to really cool destinations is a dream come true for sure,” he said.