Photo: Green River Photography
Claire O'Hara - Member of the World Paddle Awards Academy
Claire O'hara is the most successful female freestyle paddler of all time, winning a combined 8 World Championships in the classes of freestyle kayak, squirt boating and mystery. She has also won numerous World Cup, European Cup, European Champion and British Championship titles. Her sporting dominance is mind-blowing but it is her broader look on life, sport and people that makes her a true champion.
Hearlding from Leeds in the UK, Claire began her kayaking career at the Leeds Canoe Club in 1996. In 2001 she started competing competitively in freestyle kayaking and in 2006 she qualified for her first British team. Since winning her place on the team Claire has had a very successful international competition career.
Her most recent accomplishment, a gold medal in the squirt boat at the 2015 World Freestyle Championships, further cemented her dominance in the sport. She also picked up a bronze medal in the K1 event proving her versatility. In case these results weren’t exciting enough, her post-victory interview after the squirt boat event included a marriage proposal!
Her many accomplishments have earned her numerous honours including: Leeds Sportswoman of the Year (four times), a British Canoeing athlete recognition award (three times) and International Paddler of the Year by TVFreestylers.
Claire is an inspiration to many people across the globe because of her attitude, image, success and lifestyle. Her talent, character and passion for paddlesports is second to none. She is generous with her time for others, always ready with a smile, modest about her achievements and ever grateful to live the life she leads. She is one of the most respected paddlers in the world because of all of these traits.
Claire not only is an expert in freestyle, she also bring experitise in almost every discipline of paddlesports to the Academy. She holds a degree in sports development and is a highly qualified outdoor instructor, first aid trainer and assessor, and sports coach. Claire’s impressive capabilities make her assistance invaluable at all levels of the sport, on committees, as a coach, judge, event organiser, athlete and in the media.
Claire was also a member of the GB Freestyle Committee and the BCU Freestyle Technical Committee. Now, residing in Australia, she is still a member of the GB Freestyle Team. She has judged at many local, national and international events, including World Championships, World Cups, European Championships and British Championships. She has also assisted in judge training seminars in the UK and Europe for the BCU and the ICF.
Despite being a full time athlete Claire makes time to help run and organise events, to develop educational resources and coaching tools and to help coach paddlers of all ages and abilities around the world. She has coached, mentored and supported paddlers and athletes and been involved in events and projects in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Africa and across Europe and the UK.
As the most successful female freestyle paddler in the world and one of the most respected individuals in paddlesports, Claire O'hara is an incredible asset to the World Paddle Awards Academy and to paddlesports as a whole.