Video: Kayak champ from Leeds clinches fifth gold medal

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Superstar paddler Claire O’Hara from Leeds has become the most successful female freestyle kayaker in the sport’s history.

The former Leeds Metropolitan University student won two gold medals at the 2013 World Freestyle Kayaking Championships in the United States at the weekend.

Claire O'Hara in action. PIC: Steven McBride

Claire O'Hara in action. PIC: Steven McBride

And the Great Britain star successfully defended both her two World Champion titles at the championships in North Carolina.

O’Hara, 31, from Meanwood, defended her squirt boating world title for the third time.

And she also defended her freestyle kayak world title to bring her World Gold medal haul to five.

O’Hara, who was named Sportswoman of the Year at the 2012 Leeds Sports Awards, wrote on her blog: “I have just doubled the double and it feels unreal.

“This weekend I competed in the World Freestyle Kayaking Championships and defended my two World Champion titles.”

She added: “Thank you to everyone who made this event possible all the organisers, officials, staff, volunteers, friends, family, athletes, sponsors and supporters.

“This was a World Championships that will not be forgotten.”

O’Hara is due to arrive back in the UK today to start training for the 2013 British Championships event at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham on September 21 and 22.

O’Hara started competing competitively in freestyle kayaking in 2001.

She made the British team in 2006 and has excelled in international competitions.

O’Hara is currently a predominantly self-funded athlete and works as a freelance outdoor instructor to earn the cash she needs to train and compete in events across the globe. She is seeking financial sponsorship to help her continue to train and compete in a bid to help keep her at the top of her sport.

For more information on O’Hara and her success at the World Championships, go to her website: and blog at:

Anyone who may be able to help with sponsorship can e mail:


Claire O’Hara was born in Leeds and attended Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School and Notre Dame Sixth Form College.

She later studied at Leeds Metropolitan University where she obtained a BA Honours degree in Sport and Recreation Development. O’Hara started kayaking with Leeds Canoe Club in 1996.

She was the captain of the Leeds Met University Kayak club and was awarded a Carnegie Sports Scholarship in 2003 in recognition of her talents and dedication to the sport of kayaking. She has paddled all across the UK and Europe and in the USA, Canada, Norway, Uganda, New Zealand, Australia and Nepal. O’Hara has experience paddling freestyle, squirt boat, slalom, surf, polo and white water kayak. She is currently World Champion, World Cup Champion, European Champion and British Champion in squirt boat kayak and World Champion in freestyle kayaking.

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