Olympics: It all comes down to this for Korzits

Israeli windsurfer confident entering medal race in second place; Gloushkov and Yoffe place 17th.

August 7, 2012 05:30
3 minute read.
Lee Korzits at London Games

Lee Korzits 370 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

LONDON – The comments made by Lee Korzits on Sunday regarding her affection for pressure sounded strange to many people.

After all, how could she possibly enjoy the weight of a nation on her shoulders? Perhaps this was a way with which to actually reduce the pressure? But considering all Korzits has overcome in her life until what could be the greatest day of her career on Tuesday when she goes for a medal in the women’s Olympic windsurfing competition, perhaps it should be of little surprise that another race out at sea, as big as it may be, isn’t all that daunting.

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Korzits enters Tuesday’s medal race in second place overall, but she finds herself in a very tricky situation after ending Race 9 and 10 in ninth and 11th place, respectively, on Sunday.

The 28-year-old reigning world champion is ahead of Finland’s Tuuli Petaja only on a tiebreaker, with both having 38 points, while Germany’s Moana Delle in fourth place is just a further point back.

Poland’s Zofia Noceti-Klepacka in fifth only trails the Israeli by three points and even Great Britain’s Bryony Shaw in seventh place overall has an outside chance at a medal being only 11 points behind Korzits, who trails leader Marina Alabau by 14 points.

Only the top 10 will compete in Tuesday’s medal race, with points being doubled, meaning first place gets two, second gets four, etc.

The windsurfer with the lowest point total overall will win the competition.

A win on Tuesday will guarantee Korzits at least a silver medal, and possibly a gold should Alabau finish in eighth or lower, while second place in the medal race will ensure the Israeli at least takes the bronze.

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However, a third place finish or lower will mean Korzits will depend on where her nearest rivals end, ensuring the eight-day 11-race competition will come down to the wire.

The pressure will be palpable, but Korzits looks to be as calm as ever, claiming on Sunday that she “doesn’t feel the pressure” and that “my rivals are in a similar position to me, but I enjoy the pressure and I’m not sure they do as much.”

While Korzits may in fact be trying to shield herself from the burden of being Israel’s only remaining realistic medal hope, with the country yet to win a medal in London, she might also be simply describing things as she sees them, knowing how far she has come in recent years.

Korzits had all but retired in 2008 after losing out to Ma’ayan Davidovich in the battle to represent Israel at the Beijing Olympics.

She had grown sick with the arduous nature of her sport and joined the Professional Windsurfers Association’s tour in Hawaii and also took part in extreme surfing events in the Canary Islands.

However, her life turned on its head in April 2009 after an almost fatal surfing accident left her with two broken ribs and a broken leg.

She spent two days in intensive care under sedation and was told by doctors that she will be paralyzed and will never be able to surf again.

The accident in Hawaii changed Korzits’s perspective on life, but her comeback almost ended in tragedy when an American windsurfer crashed into her during the 2010 European Championships and the Israeli found herself trapped underwater underneath her sail.

Korzits lost consciousness, but fortunately a French coach who was nearby noticed her plight and resuscitated her moments before she would have suffered irreversible damage.

Korzits hasn’t looked back since, winning back-to-back world titles in 2011 and 2012 to enter the Olympics as one of the favorites.

She won the first race of the competition in Weymouth and hasn’t dropped out of the top three since.

However, she faces a scrap for a place on the podium on Tuesday, looking to ensure Israel wins a least one medal for a sixth straight Olympics.

Udi Gal and Gidi Kliger moved up three places to 11th in the men’s 470 Class competition in Weymouth on Monday, ending the day’s races in fifth and 12th.

The Israeli duo will be looking to climb at least one more place on Tuesday to advance to Thursday’s medal race.

In other blue-and-white action, Anastasia Gloushkov and Inna Yoffe ended the synchronized swimming duets qualification in 17th place on Monday, recording a score of 166.920.

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