Israel celebrates reinstatement of windsurfing

November 11, 2012 00:29

Three of Israel’s seven Olympic medals have come courtesy of its windsurfers.

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Nimrod Mashiah

Nimrod Mashiah 311. (photo credit: Israel Surfing Association)

Israeli sports received some much-needed good news on Saturday evening after the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) overturned its initial decision and reinstated windsurfing as an Olympic sport for the Rio 2016 Games.

Three of Israel’s seven Olympic medals have come courtesy of its windsurfers, who all breathed a huge sigh of relief on Saturday after months of uncertainty.

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In May, the ISAF announced men’s and women’s kite surfing would replace the RS:X sail board at the 2016 Games.

However, the ISAF General Assembly overturned that decision in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland on Saturday by a slim majority of 51.3 percent, meaning Israel’s expertise in the discipline will not be lost.

Gal Fridman won a bronze medal in the sport in Atlanta 1996 and took Israel’s only Olympic gold medal to date in Athens 2004.

Shahar Zubari claimed the country’s sole medal of Beijing 2008 and Lee Korzits came tantalizingly close to scaling the podium in London 2012, dropping out of the top three to finish in sixth in the final day of competition.

The likes of world champion Korzits and Zubari, as well as Nimrod Mashiah and junior world champion Naomi Cohen were facing the difficult decision of making the switch to kitesurfing, but can now turn their focus to preparing for Rio 2016 in the sport of their choice.

“This is a great feeling,” said Israel Yachting Association chairman, Yehuda Ma’ayan.

“This is very important to Israeli sports and we worked very hard to get this passed.

We collected so many medals in this sport that it would have been a real shame had it not been in the Olympics any more.”

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