Lee Korzits has taken many knocks in her life, but her failure to win an Olympic medal may be the one that haunts her the most.
“I need a hug,” said an inconsolable Korzits as she wiped away the tears after seeing her medal dream slip away. Her worst fears had been realised.
It was a crushing blow for the three-time world champion, who has finished second in the RS:X Windsurfing competition, but crucially failed to deliver when it mattered most — in the medal race.
Korzits, 28, is at her best when the winds are strong but, as hard as she battled to climb through the field, she dropped out of contention with a ninth-place finish and finished in sixth overall.
With the conditions against her, Korzits’ main rival Marina Alabau Neira of Spain took the gold.
Earlier in the event, Korzits had been one of the star performers, showing great technique and agility on the water, with no signs of pain from her recent corrective spinal surgery.
But the demanding competition had clearly taken its toll on the Israeli who took almost an hour to come out of the water and gather her thoughts.
“It’s hard to take,” she said. “I’m really disappointed. The wind has been strong most of the week but not today. Perhaps the gods were not looking down on me.
“I didn’t get off to a good start and it was very tough to come back from that. I woke up this morning and told myself I deserve this medal because I had worked so hard all week.
“I didn’t feel the pressure. I usually thrive on it. I really wanted an Olympic medal but it just wasn’t to be.
"I’m really sorry for letting everyone down and hope my fans will still love me even though I failed. But I did my best and am proud of what I’ve achieved in my career.
“I don’t want to think about my future now. All I’m thinking about are the people of my village. I want to go back there and give them a big hug.”
Teammate Shahar Zubari looked on from the stands before giving Korzits the hug she so badly needed.
“I feel very sad for Lee,” he said. "She's a great athlete and a winner."