Lee Korzits: the windsurfing survivor

Lee Korzits, a former ISAF Sailing world windsurfing champion, has been named Israeli Sports Personality of the Year for 2011. Korzits won a gold medal in 2003, when she was only 19 years old, but two near-death experiences almost ended her sparkling career as a windsurfer.


Korzits was taking part in a photo shoot for one of her sponsors when another surfer rammed into her back. She broke two ribs and could barely breathe before another massive wave rolled her against the rocks and broke her leg.

She spent two days in intensive care under sedation and was told by doctors that she might be paralyzed and would never be able to surf again.

In what is a testament to Korzits’s unrelenting fighting spirit she independently decided to stop being treated with morphine, and after two torturous days she finally managed to get out of bed, paving the way for her eventual return to Israel.

After an excruciating year of rehabilitation, Korzits competed in her first major event since the injury in May of last year, ending the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik, Netherlands, in 14th place.

However, the comeback almost ended in tragedy when an American windsurfer crashed into her during last July’s European Championships and she found herself trapped underwater underneath her sail.

Korzits lost consciousness, but fortunately a French coach who was nearby noticed her plight and resuscitated her moments before she would have suffered irreversible damage.

"It was really scary, but mainly annoying," she said. "I couldn’t understand why these bad things keep happening to me. But now when I look back at it I think that perhaps all these bad things happened to make way for something good. It was all part of the process. I am now much stronger and smarter.”

Lee Korzits is back for good and is looking forward to the London Olympics, where she aims for the podium glory.

"I really hope I can win a medal in London. That is my goal," she said. "I will be entering these Olympics much better than the Athens Games as I know what I’m up against. I’m optimistic that I’ll do my very best and arrive at the Olympics in the best physical shape. You never know what will happen, but I have the ability to succeed."