Olympian veterans in Italian Holocaust Memorial Day run

Shaul Ladany, 86, who survived Bergen-Belsen and the Munich Olympic massacre, and 10,000m gold medallist Alberto Cova will feature in 'Run for Mem'


TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY CHARLY WEGMAN Israeli race walker Shaul Ladany, a sporting champion who escaped a Nazi concentration camp and survived the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, sits in front of his trophy cabinet during an interview with AFP at his home in Omer, a quiet suburb of the southern desert town of Beersheva, on April 30, 2012. To some, Israeli race walker Shaul Ladany is the ultimate survivor. This year, Ladany turned 76, but he has hardly slowed down. He celebrated the same way he does every birthday -- by walking his new age in kilometres. AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

A concentration camp survivor who also escaped the Munich massacre and an Olympic gold medallist will take part in a Holocaust Memorial Day event in Milan on Sunday.

Shaul Ladany, 86, who as a child was deported to Bergen-Belsen and in 1972 survived the Munich Olympic massacre, and Alberto Cova, 64, the 10,000 metres gold medal winner for Italy at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, will feature in the event, Run for Mem. Mr Ladany is a former Olympic race walker, representing Israel, and still holds the 50-mile walk world record.

Run for Mem is not only a non-competitive event but also a meditation on the Holocaust. The route will take participants past locations loaded with memory: the Shoah Memorial, which marks the spot at the city’s central station from which trains destined for the camps left; the former Hotel Regina, the Nazis’ headquarters; and Via Eupili, location of the city’s Jewish school. It ends at the Via Guastalla synagogue, the heart of Jewish life in Milan.

On the way, runners will come across a number of stolpersteine — the bronze plaques encased in the pavement to commemorate victims of the Nazis.

This is the sixth year the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) has held Run for Mem — which is staged every year in different towns — but the aim remains the same: not just to remember the past but also, says UCEI, to emphasise the idea that life continues in spite of all the attempts, over the centuries, to exterminate the Jews.

“This route will take us face to face with history and running together we’ll spread a strong life-affirming message,” says UCEI, pointing out that sport goes beyond differences, whether of religion, culture or gender.

Running, in particular, has often been seen as a metaphor for life, for human beings’ capacity to carry on even when all strength seems exhausted.

To emphasise the non-competitive aspect of the event, this year the organisers are offering two itineraries: one of 4.8km and one of 12km. Participation is free of charge.

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