• 6/10/2013

Athlete Thea Heim:

TUM student is German champion and team athlete for the 1,500 meter-distance

Combining high performance sports and science: Thea Heim is studying Information Systems at the TUM in her sixth semester and is the German U-23 junior champion and DLV-team athlete for the 1,500 meter-distance. TUM student Verena Pongratz met her in Garching to ask a few questions – especially, how she manages to balance it all.

Race winning Thea Heim (Photo: Ralf Görlitz)
Winner of the 1500-meter run at the German U-23 Championships in June 2013: TUM student Thea Heim. (Photo: Ralf Görlitz)

You and I completed our Abitur in the same year. How come you are the same age as I am, but in your sixth semester?

I took part in the TUM’s twoinone program, which was developed especially for graduates of the doubled Abitur age group. So I started my course of studies only a week after leaving grammar school. Twoinone offered me the opportunity to start studying right away, without any risk – a perfect way to look and see whether the desired study course of Information Systems was the right thing for me.

I am a student myself and also did athletics for quite while. I can hardly imagine how it is possible to balance high-performance sports and such a demanding course of studies. How do you manage?

You need to learn to organize yourself – but you grow with the tasks, meaning that you have a full schedule for seven days a week. I focused more on studying at the beginning of my course of studies. I cut down a bit on training in order to gather more credit points. Now, I have more free time for competitive sports. I couldn’t just do sport without any mental exercise. I need both, as a balance.  

How long have you been doing athletics and since when have you been so successful?

Since I was twelve, I did a bit of athletics, cross-country skiing and football. But after a year, I started focusing on the skiing – until I was 15. After a while, the costs and efforts for the gear and the training became too much and I started to fall behind in school, so I decided to stop. After that, I didn’t’ do much sport at all for about a year – except from playing football in the amateur league. Then, my coach persuaded me to start running. I have now been involved in competitive sports for five years, my main disciplines being middle distance and long distance running.

The obvious question is: Why did you not start studying sports, but chose something completely different?

I never wanted to study sports or do sports as a main subject in school. I am a sportive person, but I don’t want my whole life to be about sports. It is my personality to want to be especially successful with the things I really like doing – a bit of a perfectionist. I also always liked intellectual challenges, in particular natural sciences and maths. In the long run, this is where I see my professional career. Competitive sports and a study course of Information Systems require similar skills – other than a more diverse study course of sports.

Currently, you are completing your bachelor thesis at the TUM Medienzentrum. What is it about?

I have a job as a research assistant at the TUM Medienzentrum. My subject is a usability analysis for the learning module editor Creyoco. Together with the lecturers, I analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the editor. Apart from the thesis, I only have two exams in my elective courses this semester – thanks to the twoinone program.

Would you say that you have a close connection to the TUM and that the University has an understanding for your sports?

I received a lot of support for my ambitions in sports, at the Medienzentrum and also from my professors and supervisors. Twoinone allowed me to organize my studies quite freely within a certain range. So I would definitely say that the TUM enabled me to balance a course of studies and competitive sports, for which I am very grateful.
So you feel at home in two exciting, but completely different worlds. Where do you see yourself in the future?

In the next three years, I definitely want to take part in international competitions, so I will have to invest a lot of time in sports. But I also want to obtain my master’s degree at the TUM, because I see my long-term professional career in the field of computer science. As I said, competitive sports and managing a study course of Information Systems require similar skills: discipline, passion, assertiveness and goal orientation. I think both worlds complement each other, and I will manage to achieve both my dreams.

Thea Heim (21) is from Sachsenkam near Bad Tölz. She lives in Munich. Her current sports club is the LG Telis Finanz Regensburg.

(Interview: Verena Pongratz)

Technical University of Munich

Corporate Communications Center

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