Windsurfing / RS:X World Championships / Lee Korzits crowned world champion for third time after final day canceled
Nimrod Mashiah leading Shahar Zubari in race for ticket to London Olympiad.
Inclement weather forced the cancellation of the final day of races at the RS:X Worlds Championships in Cadiz, Spain, on Wednesday, leaving Israel's Lee Korzits, who was four points clear of Poland's Zofia Klepacka when the races were stopped, in first place.
"I'm proud to again be in the highest place in the world," a beaming Korzits said after being crowned world champion for the third time. "Now I will concentrate on my primary goal - London."
Soon she was fielding a series of congratulatory phone calls - from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, sports officials, friends and family. "I'm just happy to represent the country and hear the support I'm getting," she said.
Korzits finished the competition with 17 negative points - four fewer than her great friend and rival Klepacka, who was runner-up last year also. The 42-year-old Italian Alessandra Sensini finished third. Israel's Maayan Davidovich finished eighth.
"It's a great feeling that I'm still not used to," Korzits said. "It was one of the most difficult tournaments I've raced in, with really strong winds. My body is covered in bruises. There is a payoff for all the hard work I've put in."
Korzits, who turned 28 this week, was returning to the site of her first world title nine years ago. "It's one of the best things I could ask for on my birthday," she said. "I really want to succeed in London. I hope I'll go there at the top of my form. That's the real target, without a doubt."
Many observers called the title - her second in succession - a tribute to her mental strength, noting that she will need plenty of that as she travels to the Olympic Games in London as Israel's greatest medal chance. Her previous appearance in the Olympics, in Athens in 2004, ended with a disappointing 13th place in the final rankings. But this time Korzits comes armed with experience and more maturity.
"This was a tremendous achievement - but the Olympics are a different story," warned Yehuda Mayan, head of the Israel Sailing Association. "The conditions will be different and the course will be longer, but she's certainly a [medal] candidate."
If winds in London are strong, this would improve Korzits' chances, as she is considered a heavy windsurfer, as is her training partner Klepacka.
Mashiah ahead of Zubari
As for Israel's male windsurfers, Nimrod Mashiah finished the competition in sixth place, while his great rival Shahar Zubari placed ninth overall, after the final day of men's races was also canceled.
The pair will have to wait until the fourth and final tournament in which they can achieve the Olympics qualification criterion, in the Netherlands in May.
Zubari, who represented Israel at the previous two Games, will have to take first or second place if he is to leapfrog over Mashiah and book his ticket for London. A bronze will suffice for Mashiah.