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October 2023

Leah and Holly's journey to the World Championships

Leah Hough and Holly Ogilvie both recently competed at the Kayaking World Championships. Our guest writer, Anais O' Donovan spoke to Leah and Holly about how they fell in love with Kayaking and water sports and why getting active in their own way is so important to them!

The 2023 Freestyle Kayaking World Championships will forever be a memorable experience for both Leah Hough and Holly Ogilvie. Both Leah and Holly are just 17 years old and made their country proud with top 10 finishes.

Leah, from Navan in county Meath began her incredible journey with kayaking in 2019 on the River Boyne. Leah became hooked and continues to enjoy kayaking as much as she did from day one.

“I saw kayaking as an outdoors sport and the outdoors is my favourite place to be . Kayaking helps clear my mind and helps me focus on the present".

Leah’s favourite parts of kayaking are absorbing in the scenery on the river and being a part of such an amazing community. "The connection between kayakers is special". Leah particularly enjoys the comradery on a river which is one of the reasons she loves kayaking so much.

Leah set out a goal of making it to a World Championships final and its safe to say that she crushed her goal with a 4thplace finish! Leah enjoys competition as it’s an opportunity to set a goal and work towards achieving her goal, but she also understands that competing doesn’t always go the way she wants it to go and that’s why it’s so important to just enjoy the experience.

Holly, a native from county Laois started kayaking from a very young age thanks to her father who was an instructor at her local club. Holly always had a dream of representing her country and Holly can now proudly say that she has represented Ireland at two World Championships.


Kayaking to Holly is about the community and the overall experience. Holly is fortunate to have been able to travel and make lifelong friends. "I have gotten to paddle with some of the best paddlers in the World and I have been able to make so many international friends." Holly says that kayaking is a sport she envisions herself doing for several years and is grateful that kayaking has brought her across the World to some incredible places.


Holly is still in school and finds kayaking is a great way to "escape the pressures of school and the stresses of study". Having a sport as an outlet is a fantastic way to blow off extra steam and have an outlet to channel that energy. The support and community are one of the biggest reasons kayaking will always have a special place in her heart. Holly threw done some incredible rides at this years’ World Championships which ranked her10th in the World!

No doubt both Leah and Holly will continue to enjoy kayaking while inspiring other girls to get active in their own way!

Article by: Anais O' Donovan


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