Thierry from Belgium
is studying Chemistry (M.Sc.)
The top athlete
Higher education and the highest level of one’s sport – at Clausthal University of Technology, it is perfectly possibly to combine the two. A shining example of this is Thierry Langer. The 27‑year-old took part in the 23rd Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018 and is studying chemistry in the Harz. He has already successfully completed the bachelor’s degree, and in the master’s program too, the expert skier is already setting a good pace. He intends to finish his final thesis before the year is out.
An Olympian of the Winter Games
Thierry Langer is on the Belgian national biathlon team. Raised in the Belgian part of the Eifel region, he was the first athlete from German-speaking East Belgium to make it to the Olympics. “It was a lifelong dream come true,” he says. Even the King and Queen of Belgium shook him by the hand afterwards. He had finished firmly in the middle of the field in the 15‑kilometer freestyle cross-country skiing. His preferred discipline is biathlon, though. In that sport, he whizzed along the trails in the World Cup races in Europe and North America in winter 2019.
Exercise is a great way to unwind from studying
Clausthal-Zellerfeld is not only some 450 kilometers from his Belgian home, it’s in another country too. So why did Thierry choose southern Lower Saxony to study in? “I knew the place from the winter sports scene. Before starting the degree program, I had another look at the town and decided that TU Clausthal was right for me,” the German-speaking Belgian relates. In the Upper Harz, sport and studying are readily compatible. “Exercise is a great way to unwind from studying. I need exercise once a day to clear my head,” Thierry explains. He has no special privileges as an elite athlete in Clausthal, but is treated just the same at the university as all the other students.
University sports at Clausthal – more than 70 disciplines
TU Clausthal is at a higher altitude than any other German university, and it’s the only one located in a winter sports destination. Training conditions are ideal for biathletes. The area even has a roller-skiing route and shooting range. Small wonder that the German Olympic biathlon champion, Arndt Peiffer, was enrolled as a student at Clausthal a few years back. Next to winter sports, the Harz offers outstanding opportunities for summer disciplines as well, such as mountain biking, free climbing, and wild water kayaking. The university sports program boasts more than 70 different disciplines.
Just as determined in his studies as in his sport
In summer, Thierry Langer likes to get out into nature in Germany’s central uplands on a mountain bike or in his running shoes. He has taken part in the Clausthal campus run too – and won it. “He’ll finish his degree with the same determination that he brings to his sport,” reckons his trainer, Josef Obererlacher. And what is Thierry planning after that? He could imagine being a professional sportsman for a time, before getting a job in research or business. This master’s student still has some major goals on the sporting front. Having competed as a biathlete in the European and world championships but only as a cross-country skier at the Olympics, he wants to get into the Olympic biathlon too. “I’ve not reached my peak yet,” he feels, “I can still do better.” The next Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing in 2022. His classmates at Clausthal, Chinese students among them, will be watching events in the Middle Kingdom’s capital with interest.