BOTSWANA – Tapiwa Anna-Marie Preston. It is interesting to see this African country being represented by a lighter-complexioned contestant than we usually see. Though some might have issues with her eyebrows, she has highly appealing features. Several pageant fans and pundits thought she can have an inside track in winning the Continental crown for Africa, but those prospects seem to fizzle as she failed to figure in the challenge events so far.
BRAZIL – Mariana Notarangelo. She won at the minor but highly regarded Reina Internacional de Cafe two years ago, also won at the city-oriented Miss Global Beauty Queen last year (representing the Rio de Janeiro suburb of Duque de Caixas) and was 2nd runner-up at Miss Caribe Hibiscus three years ago. Though several pageant fans and pundits were dismissive of her looks, apparently this lady was able to parlay her success in minor pageants to make a major splash in this pageant beyond most of the pundits’ expectations. One pundit compared her features to Sex & the City star Sarah Jessica Parker, but I thought she better resembles Amazing Race Season 17 contestant Brook Roberts (of the 2nd placed team Brook & Claire–the latter most famous for that watermelon-in-the-face incident early in the race). She seems to exude the right kind of winning charm in her introduction video, and considering she made the Top 10 in both Beach Fashion and Top Model, she could clinch the Continental title for the Americas–though Colombia and Mexico are nipping closely at her heels. She also made Top 16 in Talent.
BULGARIA – Gabriela Vasileva. She is good-looking and charming enough, and since she earned points by figuring among the Top 46 in Top model, she is definitely not among the cellar-dwellers this year.
CANADA – Tara Teng. Pageant fans and pundits were shocked when she won her national pageant, as looks-wise she seemed very weak. But judging from her introduction video it seems her key aces are her intelligence and her extremely likable personality. She would probably score high in the personality portion of the important personal interview round, but would not figure much else. In the challenge events so far, she has not figured in any of them (some pundits thought she would figure in Talent or BWAP, at the very least).
CHILE – Camila Recabarren. She facially reminds me of TV host Brooke Burke, and pageant fans and pundits expected her to fare high and be in contention for the Continental title for the Americas. But she only figured in the Top Model challenge event so far–but then again, she was further shortlisted and selected among the Top 10 so the points she earned in this one event are significant. There were these tabloid reports of a feud between her and Miss Colombia–it would be unfortunate if that story is true.
CHINA P.R. – Wen Xia Yu. When she was announced as winner of her national pageant, pageant fans and pundits rejoiced and labeled her as a front-runner to win it all. Though I thought she may not be as stunning or as statuesque as Miss World 2007 Zhang Zilin, she definitely possess the awesome qualities to become the next Miss World. She definitely made a major impact in the three challenge events she qualified so far, figuring in the Top 10 in both Top Model and Beach Fashion, and was Top Five in Talent with her traditional Chinese folk singing performance. I have a gnawing feeling she is on track in winning the Talent award, though garnering the most buzz in that event was Miss Philippines’ beatboxing skills (more on that later).
COLOMBIA – Barbara Turbay. Candid photos of her after the announcement of her representing the country in this pageant were not promising as her face seemed bloated, indicating that she was probably overweight. But when she arrived in China, she made a smashing and stunning impression, plus judging the fact she was recently announced as part of the Top 10 in Beach Fashion, she is in great shape. She was also shortlisted in Top Model and Sportswoman, being part of the winning Shuttle Run team in the latter.
She actually has the pressure of pedigree. Miss Universe 1992 1st runner-up Barbara Turbay is her cousin, and in a recent Facebook post, Mr. World 2003 1st runner-up from Lebanon, Assaad Tarabay, declared his support for her and announced she’s a relative. I suppose the Turbays of Colombia are descended from the Lebanese Tarabays, with a name modification when some of the Tarabays set foot in this country (there seems to be a significant Lebanese population in this country–superstar Shakira is another one with Lebanese extraction). Despite an unflattering report from the Chilean camp, I think her prospects are still strong–it didn’t hurt the ladies who ended up in the Top Two in 2010, you know.
COSTA RICA – Silvana Sanchez. She exudes an appealingly exotic Latina vibe. But so far she has not figured in any of the challenge events. Apparently a middle-of-the-road showing would be her best prospect.
COTE D’IVOIRE – Hélène-Valerie Djouka. Prior to her arrival in China, several pageant fans and pundits felt she is on track to clinch the Continental title for Africa. Unfortunately as she arrived in China, her styling choices left much to be desired–though it is a consolation that she is still shortlisted for Top Model.
CROATIA – Maja Nikolić. I actually liked her though I do notice her styling choices may not be the best, that could be a factor why she failed to make any impression in the challenge events thus far. But I hope she would not endure the cellar-dwelling fate of her predecessor.
CURACAO – Stephanie Rose Chang. She figured in the Talent event, making the Top 16 with her flamenco dancing. Otherwise, she is a middling contender at best.
CYPRUS – Georgia Georgiou. She reminds me of Miss Congeniality star Sandra Bullock, though she is not as sleekly polished as Sandra’s character became in that film. Still she made a good-enough impression to be shortlisted in Beach Fashion. It’s also interesting to note that in the tradition of American Idol Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips and Greece’s Eurovision representative this year, Eleftheria Eleftheriou, this lady has a last name that almost repeats her first name.
CZECH REPUBLIC – Linda Bartošová. Her tight close-up photos made me recall movie actress Scarlett Johansson. Her Designer show photo also seemed to show her exuding the vibe of a Victoria Secret model. I wonder why she was not shortlisted in Top Model because I thought she possessed the qualities to belong there; at least she was chosen as part of the Top 10 in Beach Fashion, and was included in the Talent shortlist. She could be a possible Top 30 contender.
DENMARK – Iris Thomsen. You have to hand it to her–she likes wearing provocative fashions like her backless number for the Dress Designer event and the extremely low-cut gown she wore at the Erdos 1436 fashion show / Top Model event. Besides being shortlisted for Top Model she also figured in the Top 16 in Talent.
All images courtesy of Miss World, Ltd., unless otherwise indicated.
COMING UP: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC to GUADELOUPE.