Lee Korzits 311.
(photo credit: Richard Langdon/Perth 2011)
Considering all that she has overcome in recent years, Lee Korzits’ crowning as windsurfing world champion for the second time in her career in Perth, Australia, on Sunday is nothing short of astounding.
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Korzits ended Sunday’s Medal Race in fifth position to clinch the gold at the ISAF World Sailing Championships, eight years after becoming its youngest ever champion at the age of 19.
The 27-year-old Israeli was helped by her countrywoman Ma’ayan Davidovich, who won the competition’s final race to finish in sixth place overall and deny Poland’s Zofia Noceti- Klepacka a victory which would have taken her above Korzits.
Korzits ended the seven-day RS:X event with 31 points, just two points ahead of Noceti-Klepacka, which leapfrogged Marina Alabau into second place on Sunday.
“This is one of the happiest moments of my life,” said Korzits, who will be given a NIS 100,000 bonus by the Olympic Committee of Israel.
“I can’t believe I have achieved this after all the ups and downs I have undergone. I’m proud to be an Israeli and I’m proud that the national anthem was played thanks to me.”
Korzits had all but retired three years ago after losing out to 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 was 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 in Hawaii and was told by doctors that she will be paralyzed and will never be able to surf again.
The accident changed Korzits’ perspective on life, and after an entire year rehabilitating, she returned to the sea and slowly but surely the pain that used to accompany every workout faded away.
However, her comeback almost ended in tragedy when an American windsurfer crashed into Korzits during last year’s 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 refused to be traumatized by the frightening experience and she has been on a steady rise since.
She won a silver medal at the European Championships in Burgas, Bulgaria, in September and dominated the competition in Perth to become the first Israeli to twice win a gold medal at the World Championships of an Olympic event.
“You have proven you have resilience as well as amazing talent,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Korzits in a congratulatory phone call.
“I look forward to seeing you at the London Olympics.”
President Shimon Peres was also among the many well wishers.
“If I had long enough arms I would send them to Australia to give you a hug on behalf of the State of Israel,” Peres said. “You suffered a serious injury, but you believed in yourself and overcame adversity.”
Gidi Kliger and Eran Sela missed out on claiming a medal in the 470 Class competition in Perth on Sunday, ending the Medal Race in 10th position to finish in fourth place overall.
The battle between Shahar Zubari and Nimrod Mashiah to represent Israel in the windsurfing competition at the Olympics will recommence on Monday when the men’s windsurfing competition gets underway in Perth.