Sanya (China): India's Manushi Chhillar, who won the Miss World pageant last year, on Saturday passed the baton to Mexico's Vanessa Ponce De Leon at a glitzy ceremony, where the first runner-up title went to Thailand's representative and Femina Miss India 2018 Anukreethy Vas failed to make it even to the top 12.
"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 26-year-old 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.
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.
Thailand's representative Nicolene Pichapa Limsnukan, 20, got the runner-up spot. Others in the top 5 included contestants from Belarus, Jamaica and Uganda.
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.
A total of 118 contestants participated in the contest this year.