A member of the Jewish community of Belgrade, Shaul Ladany was eight years old when he was sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Although he lost many members of his family, he and his parents survived until the liberation of the Camp.
A 1972 article quoted him as saying "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 started his athletic career as a marathon runner but in his mid twenties he switched to race walking and won the first of his 28 Israeli titles in 1963. He made his Olympic début in 1968 in the 50 km walk and returned as the sole male member of the Israeli athletics team in 1972. After completing his race in 19th place he returned to the village and went to bed. In the early hours of the next morning Latany was woken by the screamed warning of the wrestling official, Yossef Gutfreund, and escaped the Black September terrorists by jumping from a balcony onto the lawn below. Ladany was the first man to alert the world as to what was happening to happening in the Israeli dormitories and was one of only five Israeli team members to escape death at the hands of the terrorists.
He returned to competition later in 1972 when, against the wishes of the Israeli track and field authorities, he competed and won the world 100 km walking title in Switzerland. A specialist in ultra long distance walking, his world best for the 50 mile walk has stood for over thirty years, Ladany has continued to compete with considerable success at masters level into his seventies.
Away from the world of athletics, he was a professor of industrial engineering at Ben-Gurion University and an author of many scholarly books and scientific articles. In 1997 he published his autobiography, "The Walk to the Olympics". In 2007 he received the Pierre de Coubertin medal.
Personal Best\: 50kmW – 4-17:06 (1972).
|1968 Summer||32||Ciudad de México||Athletics||Men's 50 kilometres Walk||Israel||ISR||24|
|1972 Summer||36||München||Athletics||Men's 50 kilometres Walk||Israel||ISR||19|
|1968 Summer||32||Ciudad de México||Athletics||Israel||Final Standings||24||5-01:06.0|
|1972 Summer||36||München||Athletics||Israel||Final Standings||19||4-24:38.6|