Double World Championship Gold for Kayaker Claire O’Hara

Claire O’Hara has won two Gold medals for Great Britain at the World Freestyle Kayaking Championships and been crowned Ladies Freestyle Kayaking World Champion and Ladies Squirt Boating World Champion 2011.

The 2011 ICF World Freestyle Kayaking Championships took place on the River Isar in Platling Germany with 222 athletes competing from 26 countries. Claire travelled out to the event in her specially logoed VW T5 Van and spent 9 weeks training on the river in Platting before the event. She beat former World Champion Emily Jackson from the USA and competitors from all around the world to win the Freestyle title and paddlers from Japan, USA, Germany and New Zealand to defend her World Championship Squirt Boating title. She won the squirt boating event with a massive score of 946.6 (366 points ahead of second place) which would have also placed her 3rd in the men’s event! In the qualifying round of the squirt boating event, Claire dominated throughout, qualifying for the finals in first place 1000 points clear of her closest rival in the ladies and 200 points clear of the men with the highest combined score of the event.

This is the first time the Freestyle World Championships have been won by a British lady since 1999 and the first time everthat a female athlete has won two gold medals at the same World Championship event. Her team mate James Bebbington also brought home the Gold medal in the men’s event. James is the first British man ever to win the Freestyle World Championships and the first European to win it since 1995.

In total, team GB brought home 6 medals: 3 Gold medals – Claire (x 2 – Squirt Boating and Ladies Freestyle Kayaking) and James (Mens Freestyle Kayaking), 1 Silver- Jamie Austin (Mens Squirt Boating) and 2 Bronze medals – Bren Orton and Gabby Bates (Junior Mens and Junior Ladies), making this the most successful event in history for the Great Britain Freestyle kayak team.

‘These are our best ever results and we are very proud of all our athletes.  This is the just reward for all the hours they have all put in over the years.’ Tim Ward GB Freestyle Chairman.

The World Championships are held every two years.  In her first World Championships in Canada in 2007 Claire came second winning the silver medal, just missing out on the world title. In 2009 she became the World Champion winning the gold in the Ladies Squirt Boat Event. Now, two years later, not only has she defended her World Championship title she has also added to it with her first International Freestyle Gold medal, taking home the Double World Championship Gold. She is delighted that all her training and hard work paid off.

‘This finals day was incredible. I had been training so hard for it and when it all came together in both events, to win the two Gold medals was amazing.’ Claire O’Hara

Claire is already back in the UK training as she is currently taking part in the 2011 British Championship series. Then she will be back out on the road to train for the European

Championships, which will be held in Vienna, and the World Cup which will be held at the site of the 2013 World Championships at the Nantahala Outdoor Centre in the USA next year.

Claire, 29, from Meanwood Leeds is currently a self-funded athlete and works for Notre Dame Catholic 6th Form College Leeds as a FE Sports Coordinator. She trains at Leeds Met University, the Village Hotel and Leisure Centre, Leeds, and at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham, as well as on rivers across the UK and all over the World. Claire has the support of a number of individuals and organisations which help her compete and train to such high level. Claire would like to say a special thank you to VW Van Centre West Yorkshire, Dennis Newton at Sweetwater Coaching and all her sponsors for all their help and support in getting her to this event.

Claire is currently looking for financial sponsorship to help her continue to train and compete so she can continue to be the top female Freestyle Kayaker in the world. If you can help her in any way please get in touch.

For more information on Claire and her success at the World Championships check out her website and blog at www.claireohara.co.uk or contact her direct on ohara_claire@hotmail.com and 07985 200550.