Lee Korzits' capture of the women's RS:X title in the Sailing World Championships for the third time is unprecedented. Not only because it is the first time a woman windsurfer has won the title twice in a row, but mainly because of the way she won it.
Korzits reached the current world championship with minimal preparation in circumstances that were far from ideal. She underwent surgery in January that robbed her of two months of training. Such a break might as well be forever in Olympic sports terms.
Training is the fuel that competitive athletes run on, and the most important tool for building the physiological strength on which they rely.
A halt in training leads to a drastic decline in physical strength. As a result, the athlete's ability to compete on a high level is compromised.
So how can we explain that after only two weeks of training, Korzits was able to compete so perfectly, leaving in her wake an armada of the best women windsurfers in the world?
What is it about sailing that is different from other sports and allowed Korzits to dominate the competition? Is it the power of determination? Was it the ideal conditions of the sea and wind at Cadiz? Was it the Israeli windsurfer's mental fortitude, or does she have extraordinary physical abilities that she was able to harness, even without proper preparation?
To be a good windsurfer, you have to have in your arsenal impressive physical abilities along with extraordinary familiarity with sea and wind conditions. But there is something else in windsurfing that allows athletes to perform with rare excellence under less than ideal conditions. That something extra is the absolute connection to the sea and its secrets. It is the ability to read the sea like a familiar, good book written in large print. It is the ability to connect to the break of the waves and the foam, to the salt breeze that stings your face and to experience the pleasantly intoxicating feeling of "no place like home."
The sea is the center of Lee Korzits' life, and from it she draws all the psychological strength that sustains her even in times of crisis. The sea knows how to be cruel and Korzits knows that side very well, too. Now she is at a stage of high tide and maturity. London is around the corner, and with it, high expectations. Sail on, Lee, sail on.
The writer is an exercise physiologist at the Sports Medicine Center, Wingate Institute
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