Vanessa, Ultimate Survivor

2006-11-26 20:43
Johannesburg - After 29 gruelling days on the Pearl Islands off the coast of Panama, 27-year-old Vanessa Marawa became South Africa's first Ultimate Survivor on Sunday night.

It was a ladies' final, with Jacinda and Vanessa in the final two.

In the end, the vote in the final tribal council revealed one last dramatic twist.

Mzi and Brigitte voted according to tribal allegiance for Aguila teammate Vanessa and Gareth and Lezel voted for teammate Jacinda.

In the end, it was Zayn who broke tribal lines to cast his vote for Vanessa.

Survivor host Mark Bayly made the dramatic announcement live on air at the climax of a thrilling and emotional special two-hour finale.

A visibly shocked Vanessa collected that R1 000 000 cheque to become South Africa's first Survivor millionaire.

After hugging her overjoyed friends and family in the front row, a weepy Vanessa told Mark that her triumph proved you didn't always have to be the strongest right from the beginning to win.

A visibly disappointed Jacinda graciously noted that she and Vanessa had deserved it equally.

Vanessa was not an obvious winner by any means, at times in the game clearly taking strain and doubting that she would be up to the challenge.

In her final motivation to the jury at tribal council, she admitted that she "had hit a lot of lows in this game", but that it was all part of being human.

She had not been afraid to reveal that side of her personality.

"It's called Survivor for a reason," she said, "because you learn to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and carry on."

That is valuable advice for any future potential Survivor, especially as Mark Bayly closed the special broadcast with the welcome announcement that M-Net would definitely run another series in 2007.

He would not confirm where it would be filmed, but head of original productions for M-Net Carl Fisher said in the news conference after the show that it would be in another remote, exotic location.

The two-hour final episode of this season of the Survivor series kicked off with the final four survivors heading back to camp at the end of the previous episode's tribal council, with Zayn expressing his shock about Gareth getting the chop.

Dawn on Day 28 brought the first of the two most-important challenges of the game.

In the first, the survivors had to stand on a platform constructed of four narrow beams, bound together with ropes.

The Survivors had to endure hunger, exhaustion and unbearable heat as host Mark Bayly enjoyed fresh fruit juice and fruit on the sidelines.

Every 10 minutes, Bayly severed a rope with his panga, leaving one fewer beam - and less and less room on which to balance.

The first survivor to lose his (or her) balance and fall off would be out of the game.

The next two would battle it out for a place in the final two, and the survivor who managed to hang on the longest would become the first of the final two contestants.

As the survivors settled into the challenge, Zayn joked about distracting his fellow contestants.Instead, he became the 11th contestant to leave the island, leaving Mzi alone with the two women.

Mzi lost his balance later and stepped off the beam.

That left the two ladies to face off.

After three hours and 45 minutes, Jacinda finally lost her balance, guaranteeing Vanessa a spot in the final two.

The last day arrived, and Mzi and Jacinda faced off in the final challenge for a spot in the final two.

The final challenge was a particularly gruelling water obstacle course, designed to test the exhausted survivors' remaining reserves of physical strength and mental acuity.

Jacinda quietly plugged away at her pyramid, and triumphed.

Back at Burba, Vanessa was delighted to welcome Jacinda as her fellow final contestant.

Then, Vanessa and Jacinda had to face the jury, made up of Brigitte, Lezel, Gareth, Zayn and Mzi.

Then it was time for the women to make their final motivation to the jury.

Jacinda apologised to all on whose toes she might have stepped, but it was Vanessa who touched the jury's hearts when she admitted how much she had learned about her own strengths and weaknesses in the game.

When she shared how much she had grown as a person, she had to wipe away tears of emotion.

After the final vote on the island, Mark Bayly took the urn with the votes and left, saying he would see the contestants back in South Africa?

Bayly made a dramatic arrival by helicopter.

After all the contestants had been introduced to the studio audience in Johannesburg Bayly opened the sealed box containing the urn with the final votes, as they were cast back on the island.

He read out the votes one by one as Jacinda and Vanessa tried to look calm.

The first vote: Vanessa. Then, one for Jacinda.

Another one for Vanessa, as she started to choke up.

It went down to the wire, with another vote for Jacinda.

And then the fifth vote declared Vanessa South Africa's first Ultimate Survivor.

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