Monday, August 6, 2012

Jewish Olympian Profiles - Lee Korsiz

This is the seventh in a series of stories that we will publish honoring Jewish Olympic athletes, past and present, during the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Olympic TV commentators love to use the phrases, “the competition of her lifetime” or “the race of his life.”   If Lee Korsiz wins the gold in the Olympic Windsurfing competition on August 7th, it will be a great win, but it may nor may not be the race of her life.  She’s already had more than one of those.
The 28 year old woman is, according to HLN TV, the only female Israeli world champion in any sport.  She has won the Windsurfing World Championship three times.  Now she is going for Olympic gold for the second time.
With the preliminary and elimination races already in the books, Lee is in second place going into the final round.  The total scores of the remaining competitors determine the medal winner.
Although she had claimed her first World Championship in 2003, she finished 13th in the 2004 Athens Games.  She failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games.  In 2009 she was on vacation in Hawaii, doing what any windsurfer would do on vacation:  windsurfing.  Another surfer accidentally slammed his board directly into her back.  She was tossed around in the water like ‘rags in a washing machine’ according to her description of the accident.  The waves were so ferocious that she was thrown on the rocks.  Onlookers called paramedics who immediately rushed to the scene and got her to the hospital.  Doctors told her that she was fortunate not to be paralyzed.  In fact, she was fortunate to be alive.  In addition to a broken leg, the surfboard had barely missed her spine, snapping two ribs from it, leaving them hanging by mere slivers of connective tissue.
For most people that would have been career-ending.  But not for Lee.  She refused to quit and was back in competition in 2010.   At the 2010 European Championships, however,  she was once again by hit by a fellow surfer.  She was knocked unconscious and trapped under water.  Again, although she nearly died, she recovered and returned to compete once more.   She went on to win back to back World Championships in 2011 and 2012.
Should Lee win the gold on Tuesday, she will become the first Israeli woman to win an Olympic medal since the 1992 Barcelona Games.  But it won’t be her first ‘victory.’  Not by a long shot.

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