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Paralympics 2012

LMU medical student wins Gold

Munich, 09/07/2012

LMU actively supports top-level sports, helping students to stay in training and improve their performance during their studies - and wishes them well when, like Johanna Welin in London, they go for the gold.

Johanna Welin gets in a shot/targets a throw during the semifinal (Photo Andreas Joneck)
LMU congratulates medical student Johanna Welin, gold medallist at the Paralympics 2012 (Photo: Andreas Joneck)

Johanna, what are your impressions of the Paralympics in London so far?
Johanna Welin: This is my first Paralympics, and it’s just amazing. I never imagined it would be anything like this. Everything is so big – from the size of the crowds to the coverage in the media, and the atmosphere in the Olympic Village is wonderful. Everywhere people just walk up and speak to me. Our English hosts are so friendly and so enthusiastic about the Games.

...and your impressions as an active participant?
From the sporting point of view, it’s great. Here we play in front of a crowd of 16,000. When you’re in play you hardly notice it, but when you’re on the substitutes’ bench, it’s a fantastic feeling. We knew that the USA would be the team to beat in our group, so our very first game was the qualifier for the quarterfinals – and we won it. In the quarterfinal then, we put in a very good performance against the British team, and are now closer to winning a medal.

How do you manage to combine your medical studies with the demands of your strenuous sport?
It is hard to keep everything going. There are league matches on weekends, so I’ve got to play on Saturdays and then study on Sundays. And that means there are other things one can’t get around to. You have to know your priorities and what you can do without. That’s a pity, but it’s the same for every serious athlete. My sport means so much to me that I am willing to accept that my studies will take a little longer than average. I now have the help of the Olympic Support Center in Munich. That makes life a lot easier, because it means I don’t have to do everything myself. For example, the Center made the arrangements for my practical training in nursing care.

What qualities should a good wheelchair basketball player bring to the game?
(laughing) Well, it‘s basketball, so it helps to be tall and have a talent for handling the ball. It’s a very fast, dynamic sport, and one must be good at making split-second decisions. Most people tend to be surprised when they see wheelchair basketball for the first time, and impressed by how fast it is. Most do not expect it to be as action-packed as it really is.

What are your next goals in your sport and your studies?
My goal is to give of my very best in both. It has been such a marvellous experience here in London that I would love to take part in the next Paralympics in Rio. And with my physical handicap, I have to work harder to be good at my studies as well. I hope I can manage to do both.

The interview with Johanna Welin took place on Wednesday, 5. September. Two days later, she and her team-mates faced Australia in the final of the tournament. They won the match 58:44 to take the gold medal.

Partner of Top-Level Sport
This year LMU has broadened its commitment as an official “Partner University of Top-Level Sport” by signing a cooperation agreement with the German University Sports Association, the Bavarian Olympic Support Center and the Studentenwerk Munich. The object is to ensure that top-level athletes have ample opportunity to maintain and improve their standards of performance during their studies at LMU. Their academic and sporting mentors will therefore work together to help talented athletes enrolled at LMU to realize their goals in both spheres. In addition, flexible planning of study courses, accommodation at the nearby Olympic Support Center, and unbureaucratic approval of leaves of absence for training or competition purposes will assist athletes to achieve their full sporting potential. At the moment, 23 students benefit directly from the new agreement, including ski crosser Christina Manhard and hockey player Hannah Krüger.

Tip: The Sports Program for the coming Winter Semester, issued by the Center for University Sports, appears on 10. September, and printed copies will be made available from 14. September.

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