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Nimrod Mashiah became the fourth Israeli man to win a windsurfing World Championship medal on Thursday, joining Amit Inbar, Gal Fridman and Shahar Zubari.
The 21-year-old claimed the silver medal at Weymouth, England, and moved into pole position to represent Israel at the 2012 London Olympics, which will be held at the same course.
Each country can send just one representative to the Olympic competition and until this week Olympic bronze medalist and European Champion, Shahar Zubari, seemed to be Israel's obvious choice. However, after he finished the World Championships in a disappointing 13th position and Mashiah ended the event in second place, the two youngsters now seem destined to do battle for a place in London over the next three years.
"This is a great feeling. It still hasn't sunk in," Mashiah said. "Zubari and I are not friends or rivals. We have been competing against each other for many years now. I don't think he dreamed this would happen. The competition for a place at the next Olympics is once more wide open."
Mashiah had a chance to join his coach Gal Fridman as the only Israeli man to be crowned World Champion ahead of Thursday's medal race. However, Britain's Nick Dempsey, who entered the final day in first position, won the race and Mashiah made sure he clinched the silver by finishing in seventh position.
Mashiah had been earmarked to be a windsurfing star from a young age. The Eilat native won medals at the under-15, under-17 and under-19 World Championships, but struggled to compete with Zubari for a place in the Beijing Games and missed out on the Olympics. However, he is now beginning to realize his potential and is once more looking like a strong candidate to become Israel's next Olympic medalist.
Ma'ayan Davidovich ended the women's competition in Weymouth in 18th position.