|Born||June 20, 1946
Nové Zámky, Czechoslovakia
|Died||April 5, 2007
San Jose, California, United States
|Updated on April 13, 2007.|
Ladislav Pataki (June 20, 1946 – April 5, 2007) was an American coach, sports scientist, and masters track and field thrower. He defected from Czechoslovakia in 1985 with his wife and daughter, settling in Los Gatos, California. He influenced the training of several world-class athletes living in the South Bay Area, where he continued his sports science career and developed nutritional supplements. As a masters competitor in track and field, he won several world championships and set world records in shot put and discus.
He had surgery for brain cancer in the Czech Republic in 2006, after declining chemotherapy. When the tumor could not be completely removed, he entered an assisted living residence in San Jose, California. He died at age 60.
Early life and education
Pataki grew up in Nové Zámky, in the former Soviet-bloc state of Czechoslovakia. Nové Zámky is located in the Nitra Region in the southwest of modern Slovakia. According to his resumes, Pataki was the 1964 Czechoslovak Junior Champion and record holder in shot put. After competing in sports internationally as a youth, he earned two Doctorate of Research degrees from Comenius University in Bratislava, with a 1971 thesis in kinesiology and a 1977 thesis in sport science.
Sports science career
After completing his first doctorate, he started his career in 1972 as head coach for discus throwing of the Czechoslovak National Team. He held progressively responsible positions in Czechoslovakia until his defection in 1985.
In the U.S., Pataki continued his sports science career, influencing the training of a group of world-class throwers in the South Bay who were competing in shot put, discus, and hammer throw. The concentration of strength-event athletes became known as "Weight City." (Nearby San Jose State University had been nicknamed Speed City during its period of track and field success in the 1960s.) He also began a business career developing and marketing nutritional supplements.
- Ladislav Pataki and Lee Holden, Winning Secrets: Confessions of a Soviet Bloc Sports Scientist, 1989, Training Management Systems
- Robert McG. Thomas Jr. (June 23, 1986). "SPORTS WORLD SPECIALS; Imagery in Motion:, New York Times, accessed April 11, 2007. When Ladislav Pataki sneaked out of a Rome hotel with his wife and daughter last July and sought asylum at the United States Embassy, the move boded well for American athletics. Pataki, a former discus and hammer-throw coach who, as a biomechanical specialist, had been coordinator of a Czechoslovak training-research project, was the highest-ranking Soviet-bloc sports scientist ever to defect to the West."
- Elliott Almond, San Jose Mercury News, "Ladislav Pataki has brain cancer: A Valley Fixture Since Defection," February 13, 2007, accessed April 11, 2007
- Elliott Almond, San Jose Mercury News, "Renowned throwing specialist Pataki to be memorialized," April 10, 2007, accessed April 11, 2007
- "Who is Ladislav Pataki?" (resume with links to a longer autobiography), accessed April 12, 2007
- Resume, Ladislav Pataki, Phd., C.Sc., accessed April 11, 2007
- The Speed City Era, accessed April 12, 2007
- Alastair Dallas, Los Gatos Observer, "Ladislav Pataki (1946-2007): Cold War defector came to Los Gatos," April 11, 2007, accessed April 11, 2007
- Results of 2001 Masters Track & Field World Championships, Brisbane, Australia, accessed at Pataki's PowerLean site April 12, 2007