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The extraordinary grit of the long-distance walker
[Metro Israel Edition]
Jerusalem Post - Jerusalem
Author: Russo, Yocheved Miriam
Date: Jun 29, 2007
Start Page: 18
Section: Features
Abstract (Document Summary)

For [Shaul Ladany], "the War" began in April 1941, when the Luftwaffe began a bombing assault on Belgrade. For a fateful hour-and-a- half, 150 bombers flew over in waves, pounding the city with bombs, leaving 17,000 people dead beneath the rubble. "We ran into a basement washing room," Ladany recalls. "Many of our neighbors came for shelter, too. My mother and grandmother ran with my sister and me into the wash room, closing a steel door behind us. To protect me, my grandmother threw herself down on top of me. Then a bomb struck the house. I remember the huge noise, and how the door fell in on my grandmother. She had some cuts and bruises, but elsewhere in the basement several people were killed."

Although Ladany didn't realize it at the time, he'd just opened the door to his lifelong passion, sports. "The truth is, I've led a double life," he says. "I don't know whether to say that I'm an academic with an equally active sporting life, or whether it's that I've had a full life in sports and I moonlighted as an academic."

In spite of his enormous worldwide success and reputation, Ladany's relationship with the Israeli sports establishment has always been frosty. "For two reasons," Ladany says. "First, I was older than other people in sports. I didn't need anyone to translate or explain or to take care of me. And second, I never had a coach - I proved that without a coach, you could succeed even better than those who had them. But that also meant that I didn't have a coach out there, getting publicity for me, or telling the world how wonderful I was. My success flew in their faces - so the sports establishment decided to ignore me."

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