Ladany, Shaul : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Ladany, Shaul

track and field

Country Represented:

Years Competed:
1968, 1972

Olympic Info:
One of the best race walkers in the world in the 1960s and 1970s, Ladany competed in two Olympiads for Israel. At the 1968 Mexico City Games, Ladany finished in 24th place in the 50-km walk with a time of 5 hours, 1 minute, and 6 seconds. He then returned to the Olympics at the 1972 Munich Games as Israel's sole male representative in track and field. He again competed in the 50-km walk and improved to finish in 19th place with a time of 4 hours, 24 minutes and 38 seconds.

The morning after his race, in the early hours of September 4, 1972, Palestinian terrorists broke into the Olympic Village with the intention of taking the entire Israeli delegation hostage. The terrorists captured wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg, who led them away from Ladany's apartment towards the two rooms housing Israel's bigger wrestlers and weightlifters. Weinberg and 10 other Israelis were killed by the terrorists, but Ladany and four others escaped.

Born in Yugoslavia, age the age of eight, Ladany was sent to the Bergen-Belson concentration camp during the Holocaust. He told the Jerusalem Post in 1972, "...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." Ladany later received a doctorate in business adminstration from Columbia University (in New York), and is currently a professor of Industrial Engineering and Management at Ben-Gurion University. In 1997, Ladany's memoirs, The Walk to the Olympics were published in Hebrew.

Career Highlights:
One of the greatest race-walkers in history, Ladany still holds the world record in the 50-mile walk (7:23:50), and the Israeli national record in the 50-km walk (4:17:07 -- set in 1972). He began his athletic career as a marathon runner, but turned to walking in the early 1960s. In 1972, Shaul won the gold medal in the 100-km (9:31:00) at the World Championships. He also won the Israeli national walking championships 28 times from 1963-1988; won the U.S. walking championship six times (from 1973-1981); the championship in Belgium twice (1971 and 1972); in Switzerland in 1972, and in South Africa in 1975. In 1976, Shaul became the first person ever to win both the American Open and Masters (40 years and over) 75-kilometer walking championship. He repeated the feat in 1977 and 1981 (by which time the event had become a 100-km race). Ladany also won the 20-km, and 50-km walk at the 1973 Maccabiah Games.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. April 2, 1936

Belgrade, Yugoslavia

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Great Jews in Sports by Robert Slater (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2000)
Jerusalem Post, September 1, 1972
Jerusalem Post, September 6, 1972