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University's Olympic dream team heads for Beijing

18 August 2008

Canterbury Christ Church University has sent its very own dream team to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

PhD researcher, Helen Curtis, along with sports science lecturer, Dikaia Chatziefstathiou and Dr Louise Mansfield, are attending a three-day International Olympics Symposium in the Chinese capital.

The games are preceded by a meeting of academic minds from across the world at Beijing Capital Institute University.

Helen, Dikaia and Louise, all from Canterbury Christ Church University’s Department of Sports Science, Tourism and Leisure, have been invited to present a paper by the International Research Centre for Olympic Studies, which is based at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

Helen, 24, who is analysing how women athletes are represented in the media, will also use the trip to carry out case studies during the games themselves.  Helen is originally from Newport in South Wales and now lives in Hales Place, Canterbury.  She will interview TV producers and journalists in Beijing to make her research as ‘live’ as possible and hopes top complete her PhD within the next year.

Helen said: “I’ve always watched the Olympics since I was little and dreamt of taking part.  I’ve not made it as an athlete as such, but I was a volunteer in Athens four years ago and now I’m realising a dream by attending as part of my research.”

Preparations for the Games have also been witnessed by Canterbury Christ Church University graduate, Esther Irwin, who is teaching in the city.

Esther, who undertook a BA (Hons) degree in Primary Education at the University, began her Chinese adventure a year ago when she joined the teaching staff of an international primary school in Beijing.  She writing a Beijing blog for the Kent Messenger Group’s website – – so log on and see her account of life under the Olympic spotlight.

Notes to Editor

The Department of Sport Science, Tourism and Leisure was established in April 2002 as a result of a merger between the existing Department of Sport Science and the Tourism section of the former Department of Geography and Tourism. Since then the Department has expanded both its teaching and research activity and currently has over 550 students studying on its various programmes.
The Department offers a range of combined and single honours programmes in Sport and Exercise Science, Sport and Exercise Psychology, Sport and Leisure Management, Physical Education and Sport and Exercise Science, Tourism Management, Tourism and Leisure Studies and Events Management as well as an established MPhil/PhD programme. Teaching is delivered by 17 academics who are supported by a number of visiting lecturers and by secretarial and technical staff. The Department provides a rich learning environment for students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels underpinned by a strong commitment to research and scholarship
The Department’s research, which is supported by Research Capability Funding from the Higher Education Funding Council, is focused around a number of themes: physiological research relating to sport performance and health-related exercise; behavioural research involving performance psychology and the consumption of experiences; and socio-cultural research embracing the sociology of sport, the sociology of tourism policy and development, and sports tourism. All academic staff are research active and the Department also employs 3 research fellows as part of its research effort. There are currently 7 full time postgraduate students studying for a PhD and similar number studying part time.
In addition to its research, the Department has also established strong collaborative links with external organisations and the local community, especially in relation to sport science support and coaching and its work with Kent County Council’s Kent Tourism and Canterbury City Council.
The Department is housed primarily in the Fleming Building with associated offices, a well equipped BASES accredited laboratory and a dedicated computer suite with networked PCs located nearby.
Claire Draper, Media Relations Officer,
Canterbury Christ Church University,
01227 782391,

Michael Harris, External Relations Assistant,
Canterbury Christ Church University,
01227 782826,

For media enquiries:

Claire Draper
01227 782391