21 November 2023 – München

Student-Athletes of the Year 2023

The German University Sports Federation (adh) has awarded the title of 'Student-Athlete of the Year 2023' to Antonia Kinzel from the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences and Jens Mergenthaler from the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences. This prestigious award recognizes their exceptional achievements in both academics and top-level sports. The announcement was made during the Gala Event on November 18, as part of the General Assembly meeting held in Munich.

Antonia Kinzel and Jens Mergenthaler, both track and field athletes, were chosen by the Executive Board of the German University Sports Federation (adh) for their outstanding performance at the FISU World University Games in Chengdu.

„Not only did they impress with their athletic abilities during the competition from July 28 to August 8, but they also left a remarkable impression outside the sporting venues,“ shared Svea Thamsen, presenter and member of adh Executive Board. “With their achievements, both athletes exemplify the compatibility of pursuing higher education and excelling in top-level sports. They are true ambassadors for the concept of dual careers,” added another adh Executive Board member Christoph Edeler.

©German University Sports Federation (adh)

Kinzel: "The highest honour in my career"

"For me, the title of 'Student-Athlete of the Year' is the highest honour I have received in my sporting career so far. It makes me extremely proud," said Antonia Kinzel at the award ceremony. The 23-year-old is in her ninth semester of studying social work at the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences, a partner university of elite sport. Parallel to her studies, she is pushing ahead with her career as a top athlete with the aim of taking part in the Olympic Games.

Kinzel, who was already German U23 champion in 2021 and 2022, celebrated her first major international success this summer at the FISU World University Games: she threw the discus 59.18 metres on her second attempt, leaving her competitors far behind. The track and field athlete has fond memories of the FISU Games, and not just because of her sporting success: "The special thing was the great atmosphere in the German team and the Olympic spirit that could be felt everywhere - especially at the opening and closing ceremonies."

©International University Sports Federation (FISU)

Her team colleague Jens Mergenthaler, student of mechanical engineering at the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences, added: "It was an incredible honour to represent the German national student team in Chengdu and to represent Germany on the international stage. The FISU Games radiate a completely different atmosphere than regular competitions due to the combination of study and top-class sport. We had lots of opportunities to socialise with other students and make international contacts," said Mergenthaler, looking back.

He also crowned his most successful year in his career to date with the gold medal in Chengdu. The 26-year-old, who had finished runner-up in the German championships just a few weeks earlier, delivered a brilliant race in the 3,000 metres steeplechase. Thanks to a strong final lap, he flew to victory. The images of the mechanical engineering student crossing the finish line stunned and full of joy will never be forgotten.

©International University Sports Federation (FISU)

Rhine-Ruhr 2025 is on the agenda

"Being named 'Student-Athlete of the Year 2023' is a great honour for me and at the same time a confirmation of my achievements in my studies and sport. The title also shows that top-class sport can be combined with an academic education, laying the important foundation for a later professional career," says Mergenthaler.

The award winners already have big goals for the near future: In addition to the 2024 Olympics in Paris, the Rhine-Ruhr 2025 FISU World University Games are also high on the agenda. While Jens Mergenthaler could "only" have the role of spectator or volunteer due to the age limit, Antonia Kinzel could be competing for medals again in the summer of 2025. Both have already made a note of the date for the FISU Games on the Rhine and Ruhr in their calendars.

The Rhine-Ruhr 2025 organising committee congratulates Antonia Kinzel and Jens Mergenthaler on their success.

Source: German University Sports Federation