Stage set for Miss World finale in South Africa

2009-12-11 12:55

After a month of traipsing around the country and immersing

themselves in South African culture, beauties from around the globe now have

their eyes set on the Miss World pageant tomorrow.

The road to the finals for the 112 hopefuls was marked by visits to

some of the country’s top holiday spots and preliminary mini-contests, which

secured the winners a place in the semi-finals.

Eruza Sasaki from Japan, Perla Beltran Acosta from Mexico and

Mariatu Kargbo from Sierra Leone are some of the contestants who came out tops

in the early events.

“It’s been a whirlwind experience. I want to represent my country

to the best of my ability,” said Kargbo, Miss Sierra Leone.

The competition, being hosted in South Africa from the ninth time,

will be broadcast live to over a billion viewers from 3pm, when reigning Miss

World Ksenia Sukhinova from Russia will hand over the crown at a glittering

ceremony in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better country in which to hand over

my reign. The experience has been fascinating. I am lucky to go through it

twice,” said Sukhinova.

She said her time with the new contestants has been spent sharing

experiences and marvelling at the abundance of nature and “the breathtaking

scenery the country has to offer.”

Organisers say the show will be a music and dance spectacular where

the contestants will strut their stuff in national costumes and, of course,


“Winning the title would be the best thing to happen in my life.

The competition will be very tough, as all the girls are well prepared,” said

Miss Thailand, Pongchanok Kanklab.

Miss India, Pooja Chopra, hopes to follow in the footsteps of home

girls Priyanka Chopra, crowned in 2000 and Aishwarya Rai, who won the title in

1994 and went on to become a major Bollywood star.

“It’s every woman’s dream to be crowned the most beautiful in the

world, but it is not all about appearance. We are ambassadors for our countries

and I want to take the crown back home,” said a beaming Chopra.

Former Miss World Priyanka Chopra will grace the show as a special


Held in Johannesburg for a second consecutive year, the

extravaganza will be hosted by China’s leading television presenter Angela Chow,

South African former beauty queen Michelle McLean, and Miss World official Steve


“South Africa has shown that it knows how to welcome the world with

warmth and pride that is hard to match,” said Julia Morley, chairwoman of the

Miss World Organisation.

The contestants arrived in the country on November 14 to start a

journey packed with safaris and visits to historic sites, including Soweto,

where former president Nelson Mandela used to live, and tasted local


Many contestants, particularly those from the countries taking part

in the 2010 Fifa World Cup, said attending last week’s draw in Cape Town was a

highlight of their stay.

“I rubbed shoulders with some of the people I never thought I could

come close to. I will definitely be back for the games in 2010,” said Alice

Taticchi from Italy.

Lindiwe Mahlangu, Johannesburg’s tourism boss, said the return of

the pageant to the city would help promote the country and the city in a

positive light.

“We are increasingly becoming a major player in hosting global

events and the return of the competition just proves that,” said Mahlangu.

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