A Mexican model and volunteer was crowned Miss World at a glitzy event on the tropical Chinese island of Hainan on Saturday.
Miss Mexico Vanessa Ponce de Leon, 26, has a degree in international business, volunteers for “Migrantes en el Camino” and is on the board of directors of a rehab centre for girls, according to the Miss World website.
She was crowned as the 68th Miss World by last year’s winner, Manushi Chhillar of India, in the coastal city of Sanya.
“I can’t believe it, I really can’t believe it… And I think all the girls deserved it. I am proud to represent all of them. I will do as much as I can in the time I have got. Thank you so much, everyone,” Vanessa said backstage after winning the crown at the Sanya City Arena here.
The Latin beauty smiled away with moist eyes as she folded her hands in gratitude to gesture the traditional Indian ‘Namaste’ greeting when Manushi placed the elaborate crown on her head. She took a walk as the newly-crowned beauty queen, waving at the crowd and wrapped up the evening with a celebratory dance with co-contestants.
The colourful ceremony included US group Sister Sledge performing their 1979 disco anthem “We Are Family.”
First runner up was Thailand’s Nicolene Pichapa Limsnukan, a 20-year-old studying business administration.
Miss Belarus Maria Vasilevich, Miss Jamaica Kadijah Robinson and Miss Uganda Quiin Abenakyo were also among the final five.
It is the eighth time the Miss World final has been held in Sanya, which first hosted the pageant in 2003.
At the finals three years ago controversy erupted as officials in Hong Kong stopped Miss Canada, Anastasia Lin, from boarding a plane bound for Sanya, telling her she would not receive a visa.
The 25-year old actress claimed the decision was due to her stance on China’s human rights record, including its persecution of Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual group of which she is a practitioner.
“I can’t believe it. This is for everyone in Mexico and the people who supported me. They deserve a great representative and I hope I make them proud. I will do as much as I can in the time I have got. Thank you so much, everyone,” 26-year-old Vanessa said after winning the crown.
Having pursued a degree in International Business, Vanessa, is currently on the board of directors of a rehab centre for girls and volunteers for ‘Migrantes en el Camino’. She is a speaker for the National Youth Institute as well as working as a model and a presenter.
An adventurous soul, she has qualified as an open water scuba diver, and also enjoys playing volleyball, painting and ultimate Frisbee, according to the official Miss World website.
Indians were keeping their fingers crossed for Anukreethy after Manushi broke a years-long jinx for India at the Miss World beauty pageant last year. But Anukreethy, a native of Tiruchirappalli, made it to the top 30, but failed to make the cut to the top 12 at the gala.