22-year-old Israeli captures European Championships running away; Davidovich slips.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
After picking up medals at last year's Olympic Games and World Championships, Shahar Zubari added European Championship goldmedal honors to his ever growing resume on Saturday.
Despite only needing to end the final medal race in Tel Aviv in the top eight to ensure being crowned European windsurfing champion, the 22-year-old cruised to a third-place finish on Saturday and clinched the title by 17 points.
Zubari dominated the event right from its start last Sunday, and after winning a bronze medal at the Beijing Games and the worlds last year has now become Israel's first European windsurfing champion since Amit Inbar in 1998.
"Nothing compares to winning the championships at home," Zubari said after some 500 fans cheered him on as he crossed the finishing line.
"I had a superb competition and felt from the very start that these were my championships. I only really realized what I achieved when I heard the fans screaming. I'm delighted."
Julien Bontemps of France, who won the silver medal at the Olympics, ended the championships in second place, with Samuel Launay taking the bronze after winning Saturday's medal race.
However, the undoubted star of the championships was Zubari, who won four of the competitions 11 races and only once finished out of the top 10.
"I'm happy I met the goal I set myself," Zubari said. "I dealt with the pressure well. The expectations were high, but my biggest fear is to disappoint myself.
"I'm not at my peak yet, but there's no doubt I matured a lot after the Olympics. I'm on the right course and my next goal is September's World Championships in the 2012 Olympic site in Weymouth. I'm going to go home to Eilat for a little rest, but I'll be back training very soon."
Bontemps admitted he had no real chance against Zubari this week.
"Shahar was strong all week and I couldn't compete with him in these conditions," the Frenchman said.
"I'm going to be training with Shahar ahead of the World Championships and I believe we will both benefit from this."
Israel's second best finisher was Nimrod Mashiash, who ended the event in 10th place, with youngsters Omri Hazor and Ron Asulin finishing in a very respectable 15th and 20th position, respectively.
Ma'ayan Davidovich was in the medal hunt in the women's event throughout the week, but she slipped all the way down to seventh place overall after a poor race on Saturday.
"I'm very disappointed," Davidovich said. "I got off to a bad start and that ruined my race.
"I'm not surprised with Shahar's success. He's an amazing surfer."
Marina Alabau of Spain won the women's event, with countrywoman Blanca Manchon finishing second and Britain's Bryony Show ending in third.
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