Hoping for Winds in Zubari's Sail

BEIJING - After mixed results yesterday, windsurfer Shahar Zubari no longer holds one of the top three positions in his Neil Pryde RS:X event. Currently in fourth place, he is only two races away from tomorrow's winner's podium or joining the ever-expanding list of Israeli athletes who have tried, and failed, to secure a medal in these Olympic Games.

After the women's 470 sailing team of Nike Kornecki and Vered Bouskila finished their event in fourth position, Zubari remains Israel's last real prospect for a medal.

Yesterday his chances diminished slightly, as his performance of the day bumped him from third place to fifth before ending the day ranked fourth.

The Eilat-born windsurfer began yesterday's races with a disappointing 19th-place finish in the eighth race, his worst result in the Games thus far, but came back to win in the ninth.

The 10th race, scheduled for yesterday, was postponed to 8 A.M. today (Israel time) due to poor winds.

After docking his windsurf, Zubari took his bicycle for a spin to mull over the day's events.

"The first race was terrible," he said. "The second was better and I won, but the five leading athletes were all close on my tail." Zubari currently has 51 points against him, 9 more than third-place Julian Bontemps of France and 10 more than second-place Nick Dempsey of Great Britain.

New Zealand's Tom Ashley leads the pack, and is 13 points ahead of the Israeli. Ricardo Santos of Brazil, in fifth place, trails Zubari by only 1 point.

Today's 10th race could give Zubari a push going into the medal round, but he is trying to keep things in proportion. "It's clear to me that there is no more room for mistakes," he said.

"The gap between the top five is almost nothing. Anything can happen, and everything can change. Even if I'm nine points behind the person in third place, that's a gap that can be erased.

"The situation isn't tense, definitely not because of the media," he added. "Come every day."

Windsurfer Ma'ayan Davidovich will also likely compete in tomorrow's medal round, after finishing yesterday's races in fourth and ninth place respectively to land in 10th place overall.

In the Laser Radial sailing event, Nufar Edelman finished her competition in 16th place.

Also yesterday, kayaker Michael Kolganov advanced to the semifinal of the 1,000m event after finishing fifth in his heat with a time of 3:38.20 minutes, placing him in 13th position overall.

Israeli-American Rami Tzur also advanced to the semis for the U.S. team.

Today, Kolganov will begin competing in his strongest event, the 500m, in which 27 of 29 kayakers will advance.

Synchronized swimmers Anastasia Gloushkov and Inne Yoffee began their technical competition today, finishing 15th among 24 teams with a score of 43.583. "I'm very happy with the performance, but not with the score," said coach Tatiana Tzim, who is Gloushkov's mother. "We tried to do something different - something serious while also enjoying ourselves."

Today the final preliminary round will be held, after which 12 of the teams will advance.

Bat-El Gatterer received a challenging lineup of opponents in the taekwondo draw held yesterday for the first round of under-57kg bouts.

The 20-year-old's first competitor will be Croatia's Martina Zubcic, who at 19 already has a European Championship and two second-place finishes under her belt.

An upset by Gatterer would have her face Brazil's Deborah Nunes, who came in fifth in the 2007 World Championship.