Sun, Dec 05, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Miss Peru named 2005 Miss World

AFP , SANYA, CHINA

Miss World 2004 contestants run on a beach in Sanya, in China's Hainan Province. One hundred and nine contestants from all around the world are taking part in the pageant which came to a close last night.

PHOTO: EPA

Miss Peru Maria Julia Mantilla Garcia is crowned Miss World 2005 in the southern Chinese city of Sanya.

For the first time, Miss World hopefuls had to use their charms and youthful beauty to impress millions of television viewers worldwide who picked the Latin American as the winner via telephone, SMS text and Internet voting.

Previously the winner was picked by a panel of judges.

Five contestants had already been pre-selected for yesterday's final round, while another 10 lucky finalists will be selected through the audience vote from among the 107 nervously awaiting contestants.

At 9pm, they will take the stage at the US$12 million tiara-shaped Beauty Crown Theater, purpose-built last year for China's first ever hosting of an international beauty pageant.

After three weeks of hectic preparations and rehearsals, contestants said they were looking forward to the big night.

"I've been preparing my body, heart and soul for this moment for a long time and I can see that I'm pretty ready for this," Miss Canada, Tijana Arnautovic, said.

"I think we're going to put a good show on. Everyone is anxious about what's going to happen, personally I'm giving it my all and everything else is in God's hand," she said.

A soft-spoken Miss Sri Lanka, Anarkalli Jay, said the worldwide audience vote has made the contest more exciting and challenging for the contestants.

"I feel very excited that we are so close to the crowning," the 17-year-old said.

"The public should have the right to choose who will be queen, it is very exciting now that you're reaching more people," she said.

The winner will replace the reigning Miss Ireland, Rosanna Davison, daughter of Lady in Red pop crooner Chris de Burgh, and go on to perform a variety of duties largely focused on fundraising for charitable organizations.

The five contestants already named as finalists are Miss America, a strong favorite among London-based bookmakers, Miss Mexico, Miss Wales, Miss Antigua and Miss Australia.

They are the respective winners of the Beach Beauty, Top Model, Sports, Talent and Contestant's Own Choice portions of the contest.

For local Sanya residents, the contest is the event of the year with the usually sleepy town at the southern tip of Hainan Island in the South China Sea abuzz with anticipation.

Three weeks ago, thousands turned out to cheer the arrival of the beauty queens amid a colorful parade in which traditional dancers and drummers helped brighten up the normally quiet town.

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