The European Championships Munich 2022 revived the Olympic spirit in Munich. Fifty years after the 1972 Summer Olympics, the city once again hosted an international multi-sport event. More than 4,700 athletes competed in nine sports and pushed each other to peak athletic performance. Thousands of visitors flocked to the competition venues every day, creating an incomparable atmosphere and giving the athletes goosebumps.
Apart from the European Championships, however, the athletes' focus is not only on their sporting achievements. The majority of German athletes have to master the challenge of a dual career. In addition to competitive sports, this also involves completing an academic education. Volker Herrmann, head of the Olympic Training Center of Bavaria (OSP), says: "The social status of competitive sports and thus of athletes has changed. This means that our athletes can not only focus on their competitive sports career, but we also have to ensure that we support them in preparing for their so-called post-career." In order for the athletes to be able to master the balancing act between top-class sport and studies in the best possible way, a well thought-out organization and structuring of their sporting and academic careers is necessary. In order to make this possible for top athletes, the Technical University of Munich (TUM) signed a cooperation agreement with the Olympic Training Center of Bavaria in January 2002 as part of the "Partner University for Top Sports" project.
Prof. Dr. Ansgar Schwirtz, head of the Associate Professorship of Biomechanics in Sports, is the top sports representative responsible for the cooperation between the Department of Sport and Health Sciences and the OSP Bavaria. "It is not just a cooperation on a contractual basis, but it is an active cooperation with the Olympic Training Center," is how Schwirtz describes this partnership. For this purpose, he is in regular exchange with Volker Herrmann as well as the career advisors of the OSP.
"The cooperation with TUM is based on the needs of our athletes. For us, it is about ensuring that successful Olympic and Paralympic athletes continue to emerge from the Free State of Bavaria," said Herrmann about the focus of the agreement. In concrete terms, this means that the top athletes will be given advice and mentoring on how to carry out and organize their studies, for example, on how to schedule upcoming exams for the semester or how to make their studies more flexible. The TUM provides support services, such as the provision of accommodation, individually coordinated submission and examination dates, or the free use of the university's own sports facilities, to ease the burden on athletes.
Currently, around 15 top athletes are being supported at TUM, including the European Championships participants Alma Bestvater (climbing), Christina Hering (athletics, 800m) and Leonie Lochner (climbing). Bestvater and Lochner are currently completing their bachelor's degrees in sports science at the SG Department, while Hering has already successfully completed this as well as a subsequent master's degree in TUM BWL.
"For the training of our athletes, TUM is a very welcome partner. On the one hand, because of the local proximity and, on the other hand, because of the wide range of courses offered," Herrmann sums up. Above all, the new TUM Campus in the Olympic Park, with its ultra-modern competition venues and research facilities, offers many advantages. This results in further cooperation opportunities between the TUM and the OSP beyond the original agreement as a "Partner University for Top Sports". Schwirtz calls this "a win-win situation. We can do research on performance diagnostics and develop further in this area. Thus, not only research on students with a high level of competence in action is created, but research with top athletes." Herrmann adds, "It's an exciting collaboration in which we now also seek exchange with TUM in other ways." The additional cooperation agreements with the research areas of biomechanics, nutritional sciences (Prof. Dr. Karsten Köhler) and sports medicine (Prof. Dr. Martin Halle) fit in with this.
Both sides draw a positive conclusion after the 20-year cooperation and intend not only to maintain the partnership, but to intensify it further. Herrmann says: "It would be our wish that we could integrate even more athletes into the study programs at TUM, that we further expand the contact with the mentors and that we also integrate active and former students from the same study programs into this process." Schwirtz also speaks of a very good cooperation and wants to generate even more attention for it in the future: "We need to do more advertising from both sides for this cooperation and also for the fact that we as TU are happy to support competitive sports."
The goal of the collaboration between TUM and OSP Bayern is to ensure that many talented athletes will continue to benefit from this cooperation in the future and find their way onto the international stage - so that TUM students will also win many medals again at the next European Championships in 2026 at the latest.
Prof. Dr. Ansgar Schwirtz
Associate Professorship of Biomechanics in Sports
phone: 089 289 24580
Olympic Training Center of Bavaria
phone: 089 3067 2681
Text: Noah Eberhardt, Jan Cederic Mann & Romy Schwaiger
Photos: Romy Schwaiger/Olympic Training Center of Bavaria/private