Zubari: Young Israeli Sports Personality of the year

The 22-year-old showed that he has right balance of self belief and respect for his opponents to make it to the very top.

Zubari bronze 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Zubari bronze 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The defining moment in the young professional career of windsurfer Shahar Zubari was also the defining moment of Israel's Olympic Games. Up until August 20, the Games had been a relative disaster for the Israeli delegation. What began with so much promise when judoka Gal Yekutiel just missed out on a medal on the first day, looked like ending with no Israeli medal for the first time in 20 years. Zubari began the medal race of the RS:X class windsurfing competition in fourth position on that sunny Wednesday in Qingdao and was not expected to improve on his placing by the end of the day. But the 21-year-old pushed on and managed to end the crucial final race in second position to become just the sixth Olympic medalist in Israeli history after finishing five places ahead of British rival Nick Dempsey to claim the bronze. There have been many impressive Israeli athletes who have made an impact in 2008, but none has the potential to dominate their sport in the way Zubari may well do. Sure, he is rough round the edges, as we saw when he provoked a diplomatic scandal after explaining how he felt uncomfortable around Chinese culture in an interview a few weeks after the Games. But good public relations does not win races, and the now 22-year-old showed in Beijing and since that he has just the right balance of self belief and respect for his opponents to make it to the very top. Zubari is unliklely to burn out at a young age. With just over three and a half years till the London Olympics, Zubari has plenty of time to prepare himself and mold his talent in order to become the best ever Israeli Olympian.