Shaul Ladany

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Shaul Paul Ladany
Flickr - Government Press Office (GPO) - The Winners of the 10,000 M Walk.jpg
Shaul Ladany (center), winner of 10-km walk, on podium during 8th Maccabiah Games at Ramat Gan Stadium (1969)
Personal information
Native name שאול לדני
Nationality Israeli
Ethnicity Jewish
Born (1936-04-02) April 2, 1936 (age 78)
Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Residence Omer, Israel
Education
Occupation Professor Emeritus of Industrial Engineering and Management
Employer Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Height 5' 8" (172 cm)
Weight 148 lbs (67 kg)
from the BBC programme Saturday Live, 7 March 2009[1]

Sport
Sport Racewalking
Achievements and titles
World finals Gold medal in 100-km walk at 1972 World Championships (9:31:00)
National finals National Championships: 28 Israeli, 6 U.S., 2 Belgian, 1 Swiss, and 1 South African.
Highest world ranking
  • World record in 50-mile walk (7:23:50; 1972–present)
  • Israeli national record in 50-km walk (4:17:06; 1972–present)
Personal best(s) 50-km walk: 4:17:06 (1972)
Updated on February 24, 2013.

Shaul Paul Ladany (Hebrew: שאול לדני), born April 2, 1936, is an Israeli racewalker and two-time Olympian. He set and still holds the world record in the 50-mile walk (7:23:50), and the Israeli national record in the 50-kilometer walk (4:17:07). He is also a former world champion in the 100-kilometer walk.[2][3]

Ladany survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1944, when he was eight years old. In 1972, he survived the Munich Massacre. He is now a Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management at Ben Gurion University, has authored over a dozen books and 120 scholarly papers, and speaks nine languages. He lives in Omer, Israel.[3]

Asked if it would be fair to call him the ultimate survivor, Ladany laughed and answered: "I don't know about that. What I can say is that in my life there has never been a dull moment."[4]

Early and family life[edit]

Ladany is Jewish.[5][6] He was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and has a sister named Marta.[5][6] He and his wife Shosh have been married for over 50 years, and have a daughter and three grandchildren who live in Modi'in.[2][7][8]

Concentration camp[edit]

During the Holocaust in Europe, Ladany's maternal grandmother and grandfather were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. There, he says, they "were made into soap."[9][10]

In April 1941, when he was five years old, the Germans attacked Belgrade and the Luftwaffe bombed his home. His parents fled with him to Hungary.[11] There, when he was eight years old they tried to hide him in a monastery for safekeeping, warning him to keep secret the fact that he was Jewish.[3][4][10] He was terrified the entire time that he would be discovered, but says that after that experience he wasn't afraid of anything.[3]

In 1944, the eight-year-old was captured by the Nazis with his parents, and shipped to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.[3][5][11][12][13][14] Many of his family were killed. But in December 1944, he was saved by American Jews. They paid a ransom to have a number of Jews including him and his parents released from the concentration camp, at which 100,000 Jews had already been killed.[5][10][14][15][16] Ladany recalled:

I saw my father beaten by the SS, and I lost most of my family there... A ransom deal that the Americans attempted saved 2,000 Jews and I was one. I actually went into the gas chamber, but was reprieved. God knows why.[5][13]

Describing the concentration camp, Major Dick Williams, one of the first British soldiers to enter and liberate the camp, said: "It was an evil, filthy place; a hell on Earth."[7] Ladany was one of the few of Yugoslavia's 70,000 Jews who survived the Holocaust.[10] He visits the concentration camp every time he is in Europe. He was also there for the 50th anniversary of liberation, and when a Bergen-Belsen museum was dedicated.[3]

After he was released from Bergen-Belsen, he was brought to Switzerland.[6][16] After the war ended, he and his family moved back to Belgrade. In December 1948, when he was 12 years old, the family emigrated to Israel, which had just become a nation state.[3][6][16]

Education[edit]

Professor Ladany received his B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in 1960, and an M.Sc. from Technion in 1961.[3][13][14][17] In 1964, he earned a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.[3][17] In 1968, he was awarded the Ph.D. in Business Administration by Columbia University,[3][13][14] followed by postdoctoral research at Tel Aviv University.

Competitive walking career[edit]

Early career and Olympics[edit]

Ladany began his competitive career as a marathon runner in Israel, when he was 18 years old.[18] Asked whether it wasn't true that race-walking looks funny, he responded: "But in the 1950s, when I started running, people also thought I was a nut. Jews didn't run. They would laugh."[3] He explained further: "People thought of it only as punishment for soldiers.”[16]

In his mid-twenties in the early 1960s, he switched to race walking.[5][6][13] Ladany walked his first race in 1962.[3] Commenting on the sport, he reflected:

You need a certain type of mental attitude: a willingness to take punishment, to have a lack of comfort, and pain, to continue and continue. I'm not a psychologist, but was I stubborn, so I entered race walking? Or did I enter race walking, and become stubborn? It's the same in all long-distance events. Quitters don't win, and winners don't quit.[12]

In 1963, he won the first of his 28 Israeli national titles.[5] In 1966, he broke the oldest U.S. track record, which had stood since 1878, in the 50-mile-walk.[18] In April 1968, he again broke the U.S. record in the 50-mile-walk, with a time of 8:5:18 in New Jersey.[19]

In 1968, at the age of 32, Ladany competed in his first Olympics – the 1968 Olympics – in the 50-kilometer walk (31 miles, 121 yards) in Mexico City.[5][20] He finished in 24th place, with a time of 5 hours, 1 minute, and 6 seconds.[5][13] He trained and competed without a coach.[20]

At the 8th Maccabiah Games in July 1969, he won gold medals in the 3-km walk (13.35.4), the 10-km walk, and the 50-km walk.[21][22]

In early 1972, Ladany set a world record in the 50-mile walk in a time of 7:44:47, shattering the world mark that had stood since 1935.[6] In April 1972, he lowered his world record to 7:23:50, in New Jersey; a world record time that still stands today.[2][3][5][12][20][23][24] He also holds the Israeli national record in the 50-kilometer walk, at 4:17:07, which he also set in 1972.[2][3][13][23]

In September 1972, he returned as the sole male member of the Israeli athletics team, to compete in the 50-kilometer walk in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.[5][13] He said he wanted to show the Germans that a Jew had survived, and he wore a Star of David on his warm-up jersey.[15][25] When he was congratulated by locals on his fluent German, he responded: "I learned it well when I spent a year at Bergen Belsen".[25][26] Asked about competing in Germany, the Holocaust survivor said: "I don't say I have to hate Germans. Of course not the younger generation, but I have no special sympathy for the older generation who have been accused of what happened in the Nazi period."[14]

Ladany finished his race in 19th place, with a time of 4 hours, 24 minutes, and 38 seconds.[5][13] Asked how he felt, he replied: "Arrogant because of what the Germans did to me; proud because I am a Jew".[14] He then returned to the athletes' Olympic Village and went to sleep.[5][25]

Munich Massacre[edit]

In the early hours of the next morning, September 4, 1972, the Munich Massacre began. Eight Palestinian terrorists carrying rifles, who were members of the Black September faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, broke into the Israeli quarters in the Olympic Village to take the Israeli Olympic delegation athletes and coaches hostage.[13][27][28][29] The terrorists captured wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg. He led them away from Ladany's apartment towards the two rooms in which Israel's bigger wrestlers and weightlifters were sleeping, and then attacked the terrorists.[13] They shot and killed Weinberg, and threw his body out a window onto the sidewalk.[27][30]

Ladany was awakened by a shouted warning of Yossef Gutfreund, an Israeli wrestling official.[13] Ladany escaped the terrorists by jumping from his bedroom's rear window onto the lawn below, as machine gun bullets whistled by him. He then awakened American track coach Bill Bowerman, and alerted the German police. Bowerman called for the U.S. Marines to come and protect American Jewish Olympians swimmer Mark Spitz and javelin thrower Bill Schmidt.[5][9][27][31][32] Ladany was the first person to spread the alert as to the attack, and was one of only five Israeli team members to escape.[5][13] Weinberg and 10 other Israeli Olympic athletes and coaches were kidnapped and killed by the terrorists.[3][6][13][28]

A number of television, radio, and newspaper reports listed Ladany as one of those killed.[10] One headline stated: "Ladany Could Not Escape his Fate in Germany for a Second Time".[10] Ladany recalled later:

The impact did not hit me at the time, when we were in Munich. It was when we arrived back in Israel. At the airport in Lod there was a huge crowd – maybe 20,000, people – and each one of us, the survivors, stood by one of the coffins on the runway. Some friends came up to me and tried to kiss me and hug me as if I was almost a ghost that came back alive. It was then that I really grasped what had happened and the emotion hit me.[10]

Three Black September members survived and were arrested at a Munich prison, but the West German authorities decided to release them the following month in exchange for the hostages of hijacked Lufthansa Flight 615[33][34] Two of the released Black September members were later killed, as were others who organized the Munich Massacre, by the Israeli Mossad during Operation Wrath of God.[12][33]

In 1992, speaking of the massacre, Ladany said: "It's with me all the time, and I remember every detail".[35] He visits the graves of his murdered teammates in Tel Aviv every year, on September 6.[36]

In 2012, the International Olympic Committee decided to not hold a minute of silence before the start of the 2012 Olympic Games, to honor the 11 Israeli Olympians who were killed 40 years prior. Jacques Rogge, the IOC President, said it would be "inappropriate". Speaking of the decision, Ladany commented: "I do not understand. I do not understand, and I do not accept it."[12]

Later career[edit]

Ladany returned to competition two months later, against the wishes of the Israeli track and field authorities. The specialist in ultra long distance walking competed in the 1972 World Championships, in Lugano, Switzerland.[37] He won the gold medal in the 100-km walk, in a time of 9:31:00.[5][6][13][38]

At the 1973 Maccabiah Games, he won the 20-km and 50-km walks.[13][22]

In 1976, Ladany set the U.S. record in the 75-kilometer walk for the second year in a row.[39] He became the first person ever to win both the American Open and American Masters (40 years and over) 75-kilometer walking championships.[13] He repeated the feat in 1977 and 1981 (by which time the event had become a 100-km race).[13]

He won the Israeli national walking championship 28 times from 1963–88.[3] He also won the U.S. national walking championship six times (from 1973–81; including the 75-km championships in 1974–77, and the 100-km title in 1974), won the Belgian national walking championship twice (1971 and 1972), won the national walking championship in Switzerland (1972), and won the South Africa national walking championship (1975).[6][13] His personal best in the 50-kilometer walk is 4:17:06 (1972).[5]

Ladany has continued to compete with considerable success at the masters level into his seventies.[5] In 2006, he became the first 70-year-old to walk 100 miles in under 24 hours, setting a world record in Ohio of 21 hours, 45 minutes, 34 seconds.[29][40] In 2012, at the age of 75, he was still competing in 35 events a year, walking a minimum of 15 kilometers a day, and participating in a four-day, 300-kilometer walk from Paris to Tubize, near Brussels.[3][16][41]

On every birthday he walks his age in kilometers, so on his birthday in 2012 he went on a 76-km walk in Israel's southern Negev desert.[12] He estimates he has walked 6,000–7,000 miles a year, for a lifetime total of over half a million miles.[42]

In his career, Ladany has never had a coach.[43] Asked what he enjoys most about walking, he answers: "Finishing."[44]

Academic career[edit]

In his academic life, Ladany was a Lecturer of at the Tel Aviv University Graduate School of Business and, for over three decades, a Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, where he was formerly Chairman of the department and is now emeritus professor.[3][5][9][13][17] He has had visiting appointments at Columbia University, University of California, Irvine, Georgia Tech, Emory University, Rutgers University, City University of New York, Temple University, University of Cape Town, Science Center Berlin, Singapore University, and CSIRO (Melbourne).[3][17]

He focuses on quality control and applied statistics.[37] He has also authored over a dozen scholarly books and 110 scientific articles.[5][9][13][29] He holds U.S. patents for eight mechanical designs.[3][8] Ladany speaks nine languages, as well.[29]

Autobiography[edit]

In 1997, his autobiography was published in Hebrew, entitled The Walk to the Olympics.[5][13]

In 2008, his autobiography was published in English, entitled King of the Road: The Autobiography of an Israeli Scientist and a World Record-Holding Race Walker (Gefen Publishing).[3] In 2012, a biography was written about him in Italian by Andrea Schiavon, and published under the title: Cinque cerrchi e una stellaShaul Ladany, da Bergen-Belsen a Monaco '72 (ADD Editore, Torino).[45]

Hall of fame and awards[edit]

In 2007, Ladany was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin Medal for outstanding service to the Olympic Movement.[2][23] He was cited as a special person with "unusual outstanding sports achievements during a span covering over four decades."[23] Ladany said he would set up an NIS10,000 Olympic race-walking fund, and offer NIS1,000 to any Israeli who can complete the 50-kilometer race in less than five hours.[23]

In 2008, the Israeli Industrial Engineering Association honored him with its Life Achievement award.[2]

Ladany was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.[6]

Writing[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Shaul Ladany". [Live]. 7 March 2009. BBC Radio 4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00hxnv3. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Renee Ghert-Zand (January 31, 2012). The Healthiness of a Long-Distance Walker. The Jewish Week. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Green, David B. (January 14, 2009). "Questions & Answers / A conversation with Shaul P. Ladany". Haaretz. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Blavo, John (December 21, 2008). "Shaul Ladany: The long walk through horrors of 20th century". The Independent. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "Shaul Ladany Bio, Stats, and Results | Olympics at". Sports-reference.com. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Shaul Ladany". Jewishsports.net. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Tears as day of deliverance from Belsen recalled". Scotsman.com. April 16, 2005. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Yocheved Miriam Russo (January 15, 2009). "Setting the record straight". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d Simon Reeve (2011). One Day in September: The Full Story of the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and the Israeli Revenge Operation "Wrath of God". Skyhorse Publishing Inc. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Turnbull, Simon (January 27, 2012). "Shaul Ladany: Still king of the road – Olympics". The Independent. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Charly Wegman (June 14, 2012). "Israeli champion's long march". Maccabi Australia. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f James Montague (September 5, 2012). "The Munich massacre: A survivor's story". CNN. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "Ladany, Shaul". Jewsinsports.org. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f Joe Henderson (2011). Going Far. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b "Belsen Survivor Escapes Death Again". The Miami News. September 6, 1972. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d e Renee Ghert-Zand (January 31, 2012). The Healthiness Of A Long-Distance Walker. The Jewish Week. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b c d "Developing Formulas for Setting an Improved Double-Sampling Plan". Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b "Israeli Olympian Decries Walkout at Olympic Games". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. February 6, 1973. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Ladany Wins Record Walk". Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b c Ira Berkow (May 10, 1972). "Dr. Shaul Ladany is Entire Israeli Olympic Team". New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  21. ^ Shaul P. Ladany (2008). King of the Road: The Autobiography of an Israeli Scientist and a World Record-Holding Race Walker. Gefen Publishing. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b Robert Slater (2000). Great Jews in Sports. J. David Publishers. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  23. ^ a b c d e "Sports Shorts – Israel News". Haaretz. September 12, 2007. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  24. ^ Seymour S. Smith (August 19, 1974). "Ladany training to win Olympics in a walk". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  25. ^ a b c Owen, John (July 24, 2008). "Olympics Flashback: 1972: Terror and turmoil". seattlepi.com. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  26. ^ Stan Isaacs (2008). Ten Moments That Shook the Sports World: One Sportswriter's Eyewitness Accounts of the Most Incredible Sporting Events of the Past Fifty Years. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  27. ^ a b c Kenny Moore (April 2006). Leading Men. Runner's World. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b Levi Soshuk, Azriel Louis Eisenberg (1984). Momentous Century: Personal and Eyewitness Accounts of the Rise of the Jewish Homeland and State, 1875–1978. Associated University Presses. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  29. ^ a b c d "Ladany, an Ultimate Survivor, Recalls Painful Memories", by Neil Amdur, July 13, 2008, New York Times
  30. ^ Nigel Cawthorne (2011). Warrior Elite: 31 Heroic Special-Ops Missions from the Raid on Son Tay to the Killing of Osama Bin Laden. Ulysses Press. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  31. ^ Paul Taylor (2004). Jews and the Olympic Games: The Clash Between Sport and Politics – With a Complete Review of Jewish Olympic Medalists. Sussex Academic Press. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  32. ^ Tom MacKin (2009). Making Other Plans: A Memoir. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  33. ^ a b Peter Chalk (2012). Encyclopedia of Terrorism. ABC-CLIO. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  34. ^ Greenfeter, Yael (4 November 2010). "Israel in shock as Munich killers freed". Haaretz. Retrieved 26 July 2013. 
  35. ^ Joel Greenberg (September 6, 1992). "Olympics; Memory of Massacre Is Kept Alive". New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Munich attack survivors return with mixed feelings". Jerusalem Post. February 23, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  37. ^ a b Sagi, Yehoshua (September 1, 2003). "Fame was a long walk away, and he made it". Haaretz. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  38. ^ Al Levine (March 1, 1973). "World will Forget Munich – not Everyone is Jewish". The Miami News. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  39. ^ "Ladany Walks to U.S. Mark". The Spokesman-Review. April 12, 1976. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  40. ^ Nancy Harrison. "Olympics movement honors Israeli race walker". San Diego Jewish World. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  41. ^ Renee Ghert-Zand (January 31, 2012). The Healthiness Of A Long-Distance Walker. The Jewish Week. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  42. ^ "La longue marche de Shaul Ladany, rescapé de l'attentat des JO de Munich en 1972 (French)". Le Point. July 6, 1972. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  43. ^ Yocheved Miriam Russo (June 29, 2007). "The extraordinary grit of the long-distance walker". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  44. ^ Sinai, Allon (March 16, 2011). "A stroll down memory lane with Shaul Ladany". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  45. ^ Andrea Schiavon (2012). Cinque cerchie e una stella. Shaul Ladany da Bergen-Belsen a Monaco (Italian). ADD Editore, Torino. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Records
Preceded by
. (1935)
Men's 50-Mile Walk World Record Holder
April 1972 – present
Succeeded by
incumbent