MBE joy for kayaking superstar Claire O'Hara from Leeds

Claire O'Hara with her MBE
Claire O'Hara with her MBE
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BRITAIN'S most successful female freestyle kayaker said it was an "honour and a privilege" to be  awarded  an MBE for services to canoeing.

Claire O'Hara from, Meanwood, Leeds, made the comments after the Duke of Cambridge presented her with the MBE during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Claire O'Hara

Claire O'Hara

Ms O'Hara, 37, said: "It is such an honour and a privilege for me personally, but also for the sport of white water kayaking and freestyle, to receive such recognition from such a high level. It is just so special."

New mother Ms O'Hara, whose daughter Sky is three-month-old, said she is aiming to defend her world title this summer.

She said: "I cannot do a sit-up yet but I am still thinking that I am on track. I can normally do stacks."

She said the world championships are in July and she hopes to add to the 10 titles she has already won across different classes including freestyle kayak and squirt boating.

Ms O'Hara said she hopes her MBE will provide more exposure for the sport and get young people interested in taking part.

Speaking of her devotion to the sport, Ms O'Hara, said: "I like how much opportunity it creates to interact with people of all ages and abilities in an amazing way.

"You get to go to incredible places and experience it in a way that is different through something that everyone is enjoying and having fun.

"There is so much respect within the sport at all levels. It is a great community while keeping fit and facing a technical challenge."

Ms O’Hara was born in Leeds and went to 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.

Ms O’Hara started kayaking with Leeds Canoe Club in 1996.