Masters of Mandarin star in Sheffield showdown

The Jiangsu Cup Chinese Speech Contest was held at the University of Sheffield's Arts Tower on Sunday
The Jiangsu Cup Chinese Speech Contest was held at the University of Sheffield's Arts Tower on Sunday
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Lovers of languages competed in an event celebrating all things Chinese at Sheffield University - the first time the contest had been held in the UK.

The Sheffield Confucius Institute hosted the prestigious Jiangsu Cup Chinese Speech Contest, in which non-native speakers demonstrated their mastery of Mandarin.

There were 26 finalists from across the country, with 12 universities represented including Oxford, Cambridge and Durham.

But Sheffield was well represented too, with students from Sheffield University’s School of Asian Studies and young people from Birkdale School and the Star Mandarin School taking part.

Winner of the young people’s category was 12-year-old Sushain Razdan from Fulwood, while runner-up was Carmen Alvarez, also 12, from Bawtry, Doncaster.

Three category winners will have the chance to study at Nanjing University, with all fees paid, while runners-up will be able to enjoy cultural visits to China.

Guests and competitors at the Arts Tower were entertained by dance and martial arts, as well as music from young piano virtuoso Yuanfan Yang and Chinese X Factor winner Mary-Jess Leaverland, a former Sheffield University student.

VIP guests included Lord Mayor Coun Vickie Priestley, the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Manchester Yundong Pan, and Sheffield University Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett.

“Judges were selected from leading UK universities and they said the standard of the competition was very high,” said Paul Kilner, of the Confucius Institute.

“The auditorium was packed and everyone enjoyed the entertainment which was an important part of the day.”

The contest, which has most recently been held in Washington DC, was backed by Nanjing University and the Jiangsu Province Government.