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Sheffield students are celebrating the opportunity of a lifetime after being selected to work in the Beijing Olympic press office during this summer's games.

Sheffield Hallam University, which has built strong links with China, will be flying out 24 of its media students to work alongside professional journalists during the games. They are the only European students selected and will be interviewing athletes and writing new pieces for the press office which will act as a newswire service for national and international media.

Initially only 15 students were needed but officials from the press office, who visited Sheffield Hallam last year to hold interviews and tests, were so impressed with the standard of the University's media students they decided to take 24.

David Stevenson (20), from Sheffield, who is in his second year studying for a BA in Journalism Studies is one of the students who has been selected.

"I was in shock when I was first told I was going but now I am really looking forward to it," he said.

"I like all aspects of sports journalism; it will be excellent experience, will good on my CV and China is a place where I have always wanted to go."

Other European universities applied for the same opportunity to send students to work in the press office but only Sheffield Hallam students were chosen.

The major announcement was officially made this week by Sheffield Hallam University's Director of Corporate Communications, John Palmer, during a visit to China where he was a guest at newly promoted Chengdu Blades first match of the season. Chengdu Blades, chairman, Tony Xu, is a graduate of Sheffield Hallam University.

"This is fantastic news for Sheffield Hallam and further goes to show how strong our links are with China," he said.

"We have an excellent relationship with Renmin University, they endorsed our bid to get our journalism students to the Olympics and we have signed a memorandum of understanding with them around research collaboration.

"We will also be welcoming Professor Mingxiao Boa, from the Chinese Institute of Sport, to Sheffield Hallam University in May when he will be giving  guest lecture."

The media students will be heading out to China on July 3 so that they have plenty of time to prepare for the start of the Olympics on August 8. Some of the students will be staying on in China to report on the Para Olympics which ends on September 18. 

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