Matt Berger is in qualifying position for the Olympic Summer Games this year in Tokyo.
The 27-year-old skateboarder from Kamloops said a top-three performance at an upcoming event in Des Moines, Iowa, should lock up his spot on Team Canada for the 2020 Games, which were originally slated for 2020, but had to be rescheduled to this July and August due to the pandemic.
“I feel the best I’ve ever skated in years,” said Berger, who has overcome multiple knee surgeries in his career. “Between just getting older and becoming more confident with what I do and, I guess, getting a little bit more wise, I’ve been able to do things skateboarding in the last year that I really didn’t know I’d be capable of doing.”
Find the evidence on Instagram — @mattberger_. The account has more than 138,000 followers.
Five years ago, the International Olympic Committee determined skateboarding will make its debut at the Tokyo Games.
Berger is the top-ranked Canadian in the street discipline in Olympic World Skateboarding rankings, sitting 17th overall. Skaters must be inside the top 20 when the qualifying period ends to reach the Games.
There are two events remaining in the qualifying period, information that was released to anxious athletes earlier this month — a Dew Tour competition, which runs from May 20 to May 23 in Des Moines, and the Street World Championships, which run from May 31 to June 6 in Rome, Italy.
Berger, who will skate at both events, has competed only once since winning gold at the Canada Skateboard National Championships in March 2020 in Toronto.
“It was a letdown, of course, when our whole year got flipped upside down and it sucks when you kind of feel like you’re in limbo, but I’m always trying to be the best skateboarder I can be,” said Berger, who lives in Huntington Beach, Calif. “So nothing really changed in that regard.”
Berger has been preparing as if the Olympics will take place this year and has put in ample time training off of the board.
“We’re going to see which people have grown from corona and taken the opportunity to get better and which ones have gotten lazy, I guess,” Berger said with a laugh.
“These days, I’m just excited to go out and skate, just knowing my mind, body and spirit are all kind of aligning well.”