The tension between Israel's two Olympic windsurfing hopefuls continued on Thursday at the Sailing World Cup in Medemblik, Netherlands, as Shahar Zubari retained a hold of first place over Nimrod Mashiah.
Zubari won the seventh race and took fourth in the eighth, while Mashiah placed fifth and 12th respectively to move up to sixth. Omer Sofer, a friend of Zubari from Eilat who was a late entry, places second overall after taking second and third in the day's two races.
Zubari has to win the competition without Mashiah getting a medal to make the Olympics. Mashiah is 22 points away from the podium.
Both Zubari and Mashiah traded accusations Wednesday. Mashiah's supporters say Sofer and another sailor, Ron Asulin, entered late to bother Mashiah, and that on Thursdaythey helped Zubari.
Yehuda Maayan, chairman of the Israel Sailing Association, said on Thursday that he warned the two that the World Cup was an important event, and ironically harder because of the relatively low level of competition. Maayan said it's easier to prepare for the big events like the European and World championships.
"Mashiah looks like he didn't arrive prepared enough," observed Maayan. "Perhaps he thought he already had the Olympic bid wrapped up."
Maayan discounted the accusations against Mashiah's Eilat pals. "There are four surfers between him and Shahar who are not as good as him," he said. "He shouldn't be finishing races 12th or 18th. It could be the pressure getting to him."
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