Quick-fire questions with British kayaker Claire O’Hara

CLAIRE O'HARA, one of the world's most successful female kayakers, is the latest athlete to take a round of our 'quick-fire' questions.

Claire O'Hara

Claire O’Hara is the current world champion in freestyle kayak and squirt boat kayak. photo Jez


What do you love most about your kayaking career?


I love the fact that kayaking has taken me to so many incredible places, with so many amazing people around the world. It has not only given me a sport and a passion but also a lifestyle that I wouldn’t change for the world. To now be in the position where I can do it full time is a dream come true. Everyday I get to go out and do the sport I love surround by like minded people. That is what makes kayaking very special its about more than just the kayaking.


What has been the highlight in your career to date?


It has to be the first day of the ICF World Championships this year. I competed at ‘Smoothie’, the world’s best squirt boating venue, in the middle of the Ottawa river surround by friends and family from all over the world. The river levels were perfect, the sun was out and the atmosphere was unreal. Everyone there had to travel there specifically by boat as we were on an island in the middle of the river. There were people everywhere you looked lining the banks of the river, the rock outcrops and even sat high in the trees.


Because of the remoteness of the venue we did the whole competition in a day. Qualifiers, semi finals and finals, seven rides in total all in the one day. I paddled hard ride after ride. Everyone paddled so well the standard was insane it put my skills to the test as I competed with the best paddlers in the world.


Between us we absolutely smashed all the world records and nailed some epic new moves and rides. In the end won over 700 points clear of 2nd place to claim my fourth consecutive ICF Squirt Boating World Championship title and set two new world records.


Then as I paddled by to shore to celebrate my boyfriend Jez, who was announcing the event, proposed to me. Right there and then in the water he asked me to marry him in front of my family, friends, the TV cameras and a massive crowd. That was a seriously epic stand out day!


If you could accomplish one thing in kayaking or outside the sport in the next five years what would that be?


I would love to win another world title and hit a 1,000 point ride during an ICF competition. However the thing that excites me most is watching the next generation come through and being part of their journey as they continue to take the sport to the next level.


Claire winning double-gold at the 2013 World Championships (photo by Greenriver photography

Claire winning double-gold at the 2013 World Championships. photo Greenriver photography


What’s your favourite movie?


Lock, Stock and Two Smoking barrels. Just good old English humour combined with some quality action.


And actor?


Brad Pitt.


And musician/band?


Anything and anyone with a good beat,


If you could have the opportunity to give another sport a go on a global level what would that sport be?


Wakeboarding. I love it and would love to be good at it. Seeing the top athletes fly through the air, throwing big tricks and jumping one and off ramps and wakes it looks so much fun. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to get into it when I was younger but I can’t complain as look where my journey in kayaking has got me.


Where’s your favourite place to relax?


On the water, on a river cruising down a beautiful section of big and bouncy easy class 3 in a beautiful gorge or surfing a glassy green wave on a sunny day. Off the water, my favourite and probably only place I really relax is in the cinema. I struggle to sit still and relax unless I’m literally stuck in a cinema watching a movie.


Do you have or would you get a tattoo?


I have one. I got it many years ago. Its a small kayaking emblem that means the world to me. I have it on my lower back so most people don’t know I have it. Its a personal tattoo that signifies the importance of kayaking in my life. It’s not for show, or a statement piece. It’s just something personal for me.


What’s your best characteristic?


My positive attitude and energy. I like to live a life filled with fun adventures so try and carry positive energy into everything I do, everyday.


If you could order any three-course meal what would it be?


Melon or prawn cocktail stater Roast dinner with chicken, fresh veg, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and good old Bisto gravy. Something chocolaty. Top choice would have to be Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream


If you had to get stuck in an elevator with someone who would that person be?


Dennis Newton. He is so entertaining, just watching him trying to figure out how to get out would make the experience so memorable and fun. I would want to be stuck in an elevator with Den and a Go Pro so I could film it all for others to see.


What’s your most used curse word?


Sugar. No seriously I try not to curse. Its been something I’ve been working on for years. Leading by example a healthy good professional image especially around the young paddlers I work with and meet. At Keeners we have a 25 push up penalty for swear words. I think its good to try keep things clean.


What are you most afraid of?


The dark, spiders, snakes, fish, everything and anything that moves. And losing my friends and family.


When are you happiest?


When I’m out doing awesome adventure activities and sports with friends.


What drives you to keep pushing for success?


I’m competitive. I love to work towards being the best that I can be. I like to see other people doing amazing things and then challenge myself to do them too. That’s what started me on this journey and that’s what will keep me going for many more years. I can always be better and I want to be the best that I can be.


If you hadn’t found kayaking what career do you think you’d be in now?


I have no idea. Kayaking has become such an integral part of my life and for so many years it is hard to imagine life without it. I suspect I would be doing some other high adventure sport to as high a level as possible.


Which sports person do you most aspire to?


I don’t have one specific person in life that inspires me. I am inspired in so many ways by everyone I have met throughout my life in so many different ways. Some have inspired me technically as an athlete, others through their personality and characteristics, some through their teamwork and the ways they interact and work with others, some through their sportsmanship and gamesmanship and the way they celebrate success and failures and others in their work ethic and passion.


I hope this does’t sound like I’m avoiding the question. I just see so much in different people that I am inspired by sports people as a whole. Not just one individual or even athletes from just one sport. I find all sports people fascinating and inspiring each in their own individual way.


Claire O'Hara

This year saw Claire gain her fourth consecutive ICF Squirt Boating World Championship title which was shortly followed by a marriage proposal from boyfriend Jez.

Reader Comments

Share This Article