(photo credit: Courtesy)
Windsurfing may well be the worst spectator sport in the world.
you’ve got a helicopter or a spare yacht, the only way you can watch the
performance of your favorite surfers is either from kilometers away on the shore
or via the championships Web site on the internet.
battle brewing between Shahar Zubari and Nimrod Mashiah to represent Israel at
the 2012 London Olympics is one well worth following over the next two
The word “battle” is often overused in sports, but not in this
The rivalry between Zubari and Mashiah is quite literally a fight
between two opposites, from which only one winner will arise. The two aren’t
even on speaking terms, making their race to appear at the London Games not only
professional, but personal as well.
While the 24-year-old Zubari is
relatively small and slender in body type, Mashiah (at 22) is big and brawny,
meaning the two men also have completely different surfing styles.
way you look at the two athletes reveals that they are virtually a mirror image
of each other.
The real reason the head-to-head clash between Zubari and
Mashiah is of special interest is because Olympic rules dictate that each
country can only send one representative to the RS:X windsurfing
Zubari and Mashiah have both done exceptionally well in the
past two years and either of the two will be among Israel’s best medal hopes in
However, only one will be taking part in the competition at
Weymouth in two years’ time, meaning they are not only contesting for a place in
the Games over the next 21 months, but are also essentially battling for an
Olympic medal long before Israel’s delegation arrives in the English
Zubari and Mashiah have done so well in recent years that it is
even difficult to determine which surfer is the current frontrunner entering the
Mashiah won his second straight medal at the windsurfing
World Championships on Saturday, finishing in third position in Kerteminde,
The 22-year-old claimed a silver at the event last year and has
now joined Amit Inbar and Gal Fridman (who battled for supremacy in similar
fashion to Zubari and Mashiah throughout the 1990’s) as the only Israelis to win
multiple world medals.
Zubari, on the other hand, disappointed at the
worlds for a second consecutive year, finishing in 17th place a year after
The 2008 Beijing bronze medalist is, however, the two-time
reigning European champion (2009, 2010) and has also already proven he can
succeed on the Olympic stage.
Next year’s World Championships will be the
official start line for the Zubari-Mashiah showdown, with each significant
competition after that to be taken into consideration in the ultimate decision
to be made by the Olympic Committee of Israel just a couple months before the
“It is cruel only one surfer can go to the Olympics,” the
director of Israel’s Elite Sport Department, Gili Lostig, told The Jerusalem
“But those are the IOC’s rules and I think competition in sports is
an advantage as it pushes the athletes to improve. It forces them to keep
looking for ways to get better and will bring out the best from both
Windsurfing may not be most people’s sport of choice, but when
it comes to international success, the country’s surfers tower above all other
local athletes. To wit, three of Israel’s seven Olympic medals have come in the
sport, with local windsurfers accumulating 19 medals in World and European
championships over the past 18 years.
That will likely be the case once
more at the London Olympics. But one question still remains to be answered –
will our hopes be pinned on Zubari or Mashiahfirstname.lastname@example.org