Saturday, June 11, 2011

Yorkshire Evening Post Sport Sunday Article 11th June 2011

Leeds kayaking ace harbours double ambition INTERVIEW

editorial image

Claire O'Hara in action.

LEEDS kayaking ace Claire O’Hara once again has world domination in her sights – the Yorkshire ace better prepared than ever for a new double mission in Germany.

O’Hara is already British, European and World squirt boat kayaking champion and will attempt to defend the latter title when the World Championships begin in nine days’ time.

However, this year the Meanwood ace is also seeking glory in the freestyle event with preparations so far perfect following three weeks’ training in Plattling, south east Germany.

Not only has O’Hara had ample time to acclimatise but thanks to West Yorkshire’s Volkswagen Van Centre, the 29-year-old now has a new Volkswagen Transporter T5 – custom fitted for life on the road as a kayaker.

Featuring a bed, storage space for her kayaks and equipment plus a comfy living space with refrigerator, it has left the 29-year-old in the best shape possible in search of not just one but two kayaking crowns.

“There is now only nine days left to the start of the event and things are beginning to get quite exciting,” said O’Hara, speaking from Germany this week.

“Competitors from across the world have been arriving over the last few weeks and the wave is already super busy with everyone trying to get as much training as possible on the feature before the start of the event.

“My training is going really well and I have been working on balancing my freestyle and squirt boat training as I am competing in two events. I hope not only to defend my World Championship title but also beat my previous freestyle world ranking and hopefully add to it with a second medal.

“I am really looking forward to the start of the event and being able to put all my training into practice.”

Practice that has been stress free with the added luxury of her new vehicle. Expressing her delight at her new ‘home’, self-funded O’Hara added: “These events are massive for me and without this sponsorship, I’d be really stuck.

“It would be similar to paddling my kayak without any paddles!

“It is once again going to be another very busy competitive year which will involve a lot of travelling across Europe and the UK but luckily I have the fantastic support of the Volkswagen Van Centre.”

It is indeed about to be an extremely busy time for O’Hara who following the 10-day World Championships will return back to Leeds to prepare for her forthcoming assault on the British Championships Series.

All this while working part-time as a sports co-ordinator at Notre Dame Sixth Form College but despite the busy schedule, O’Hara has ambitious plans.

“Last year I won my fifth British Championship title in squirt boating beating not only the women but also all the men and I came second in the freestyle series,” she explained. “This year I have my eyes on both the British freestyle and squirt boating championship titles.

“For the first year ever the winner of the British Championships will also get automatic selection for the 2012 British team for the 2012 European Championships which will be taking place in Vienna next summer so it is even more important for me to stay focused and keep training hard.”

O’Hara added: “It is amazing to be able to be living my dream and competing at the highest level in my sport.

“I have been really lucky to have amazing support from a lot of people. Now I really hope I can pull all this hard work and training together.”