Katharina Lang began her basketball career as a “pedestrian”, was German champion with Bad Aibling in 2009 before switching to wheelchair basketball after tearing several cruciate ligaments. Thanks to a sports scholarship, the 28-year-old national player studied marketing in the United States at the University of Alabama, where she not only led the college team as captain to the national title in the midst of the corona pandemic, but also completed her bachelor’s degree with honors.
Katharina, the preliminary round groups for the games in Tokyo were recently drawn, how excited are you for your first Paralympic participation?
I’m really looking forward to Tokyo, now that it’s 90 percent certain that the Games will take place.
The German team has won gold once and silver twice in the past three games in Beijing, London and Rio. Is a medal planned for Tokyo?
This will by no means be a sure-fire success. The other nations have worked extremely hard recently and invested a lot of money to develop further. Some of them have significantly higher financial resources than we do. In addition, there has been a change in our team in recent years because some experienced players have quit. But of course we try to stick to the top and get the best out of it. We all want to go home with a medal. We have worked very hard for this over the past few years.
How has the previous Corona period influenced you? Many German athletes – as recently published survey results show – have thought about ending their sports career in the last few months.
I admit I was part of it. In mid-March of last year, due to the pandemic, the university asked us to leave the USA and fly home. When the Paralympics were postponed, I suddenly felt like I was left with nothing. Before that, I had counted down the days to Tokyo, and suddenly 365 days were packed on top again. All the work over again, without knowing whether the games would actually take place in 2021 ?! That already gnawed at me.
How did you get out of this mental hole again?
I decided to do a shoulder operation, which was actually only planned after Tokyo. I thought this is the best way to use the time – which ultimately worked out great. Thanks to the financial support from Deutsche Sporthilfe and the Deutsche Bank Sport Scholarship, I was able to buy weight room equipment for home training and get myself fit again in the USA by the start of the season in August.
How motivated were you able to continue your studies? After all, the previous semesters you were always on the President’s List of the University of Alabama, which lists the students with a grade point average of 1.0.
At least I had the motivation to keep this cut. However, I had to cope with the rest of the spring semester from Munich. I’m someone who likes to go to bed early, and suddenly because of the time difference in the US, I had lectures that ran from midnight to three or four in the morning. I became a night owl to successfully advance my studies.
… which you passed this spring with magna cum laude.
From August I only had one semester left, with four courses planned. But then I noticed that my student advisor was miscalculating two courses and suddenly I had to take six. For the first time in my life I didn’t know how to do it. I just felt overwhelmed. But through the medical department of the national team I got in touch with a psychotherapist, the former swimmer Petra Dallmann. I was able to talk to her about the pressure at university and in sports, which helped me a lot. I am usually not a person who relies on outside help. However, this situation has shown me that it is extremely helpful not to wrestle with yourself all the time.
That means that you can also draw something positive from the corona pandemic for your personal development?
In any case. At the beginning I experienced the pandemic as an enormous stress factor, but discovered a lot of positive things through the therapy. I live much more consciously and have rediscovered enormous joy and motivation for my sport.
Let’s come back to this one more time. How do people react when you tell them that you play wheelchair basketball but are not dependent on it in everyday life?
At first you look very puzzled. I always enjoy being able to explain that everyone, whether disabled or not, can play wheelchair basketball. Sometimes there are reservations that I would take a seat away from someone who is more disabled. But that only comes from outsiders, because the statutes clearly regulate how strong the degree of disability has to be within a team. No one on the team says “Oh dear, the pedestrian”. For me, from the first day as a wheelchair basketball player, it was incredibly nice to feel how everyone is supported in order to become better. For us, the team and the performance count. I enjoy it so much that I can certainly imagine starting in Paris in 2024 as well. Even if I’m over 30 by then. But then hopefully with the audience and my family in the audience. Because I will miss them as fans in Tokyo.
Katharina Lang (born January 2, 1993 in Munich)
Sport: wheelchair basketball
Place of residence: Munich
Club: RBB Munich Iguanas / University of Alabama
Biggest successes: Third place in the 2018 World Cup, third place in 2019, runner-up in 2017, winner of the College Nationals (USA) in 2019 and 2021
University: The University of Alabama (USA)
Deutsche Bank, a national sponsor of Deutsche Sporthilfe since 2008, supports top-class athletes with the Deutsche Bank Sports Scholarship as part of the Sporthilfe funding. Around 300 athletes sponsored by Sporthilfe are currently benefiting from the program, which is granted with a time bonus beyond the standard period of study. The special achievements of the student athletes are to be additionally honored with the choice “Sports scholarship holder: in of the year”. Deutsche Bank doubles the winner: in the scholarship for 18 months. The four other finalists receive additional funding of 50 percent of the monthly scholarship for the same period.
The following athletes are available: Andreas Bechmann (decathlon / general management), Hannah Gablac (hockey / human medicine), Katharina Lang (wheelchair basketball / marketing), Deborah Levi (bobsleigh / elementary school teaching) and Leonie Meyer (kitesurfing / human medicine). Until July 11, 2021, everyone: r can choose the successor (s): in by Annabel Breuer, wheelchair basketball player and psychology student, at www.sportstipendiat.de. An iPad will be raffled off among all participants in the online voting.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
Reprint free of charge. Source: Deutsche Sporthilfe
We offer video and photo material free of charge and free of rights:
– a ready-to-broadcast video that has been cut and set to music, introducing the five finalists both as athletes and as students. We show spectacular insights into the training work during Corona and look over our shoulder while studying: https://youtu.be/s2Q3WbjPfsg
– a ready-to-broadcast video contribution to Katharina Lang: https://youtu.be/YhFkWz0TuHQ
– Rights-free photo material is available for download on the Deutsche Sporthilfe homepage: https://bit.ly/3zXlBzm
“National sponsors” are Mercedes-Benz, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Post and Allianz. They provide outstanding support to Deutsche Sporthilfe, the athletes it supports and the socio-political goals of the foundation.
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Fax: 069/67803 – 599
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Original content by: Stiftung Deutsche Sporthilfe, transmitted by news aktuell
Original message: https://www.presseportal.de/pm/51413/4954905