SWEDEN – Sanna Jinnedal. Several pageant fans and pundits felt she was a major letdown from the gorgeous Nicoline Artursson. So it’s surprising that not only she was shortlisted in the Sportswoman challenge events but in both looks-oriented events as well plus the Designer Dress award. If we look at the results of the six sports events, I have this feeling she will be the winner of the Sportswoman challenge–she was part of the winning relay race team, won (in a tie with Uganda) the penalty shoot-out, and placed 2nd in the long jump–she’s the only one listed in three sports competitions.
TANZANIA – Lisa Peter Jensen. Her name doesn’t sound African, and she is one of the few fairer-complexioned contestants fielded by this country. Like “prettier” contenders such as Belgium, France, Lebanon, and Malta, she was initially considered for Top Model before they whittled down to the final 46. Otherwise, she seemed to be a relatively raw and unpolished contender.
THAILAND – Vanessa Phuang Hermann. For the second year in a row, this country decided to field a Eurasian–this time one of German descent. She is a great looking lady, but I was underwhelmed by her introduction video as she seemed tentative. Is she like this in front of the judges, or at least she mustered some confidence? Anyway, it was reported that besides Top Model, she also was shortlisted for the Multimedia award (though most wonder why Philippines failed to make the list). I think it will be a bit of a challenge for her to make the Top 30 like her predecessor.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – Athaliah Samuel. Pageant fans and pundits reacted with shock and revulsion when they initially saw her. And it is with shock that they reacted when she figured in the two looks-oriented challenge events. She is not my brand of exotic, but apparently it is for the people at Miss World, that is why she fared as well as she did.
TURKEY – Açalya Samyeli Danoğlu. Just like Miss Israel, pageant fans and pundits salivate at her statuesque stature and model features. It is completely justifiable how she was shortlisted in Top Model. But pageant fans and pundits were shocked when she failed to make the Beach Fashion shortlist. At the very least she made up for that loss by also figuring in the Sportswoman event. She’s more articulate than your average contestant from this country (belonging in the stellar exceptions like Miss World 2002 Azra Akιn).
UGANDA – Phiona Bizzu. Her notable performance is in the Sportswoman event, where she won the penalty shootout (in a tie with Miss Sweden). Lookswise, she isn’t my cup of tea, and she seems to be an unpolished communicator, but she sounded very sincere in her introduction video that she might score high in the personality department.
UKRAINE – Karyna Zhironkina. Here is one of the most gorgeous faces in this year’s pageant. But buzz seems to be relatively muted–yes, she figured in both looks-oriented challenge events, but there are fans and pundits (including myself) who felt she deserves to rank higher in them, especially in Top Model. Would a Designer Dress placement serve as a consolation? She looked impeccably gorgeous and elegant in her Top Model photos, I have to scratch my head on why in the hell they selected Jamaica over her. I love her to bits, but I have a feeling she won’t rank as high as her predecessor (who also made a major splash in Talent last year).
UNITED STATES – Claudine Book. Considering the franchise holder for this country is Elite Model Management, it’s a bit of a headscratcher that this ingenue seemed to appear raw onstage. I find her prettier than Miss World 2010 Alexandria Mills, but with the exception of a Top 25 placement in Performing Talent and almost being considered for the Top Model shortlist, she failed to generate the necessary buzz so it is unlikely she would make the Top 30. Still the recent announcement that she made the shortlist for BWAP may mean she might earn crucial points to make the final cut (remember that her predecessor didn’t even earn any points at all from BWAP as she apparently failed to submit a project). She reminds me of an embryonic and less charismatic version of Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella.
URUGUAY – Valentina Henderson. I’ve noticed in several appearances she styled her hair similar to Gwendoline Ruais last year. Is she trying to capture Gwen’s “magic”? Unfortunately it seems to be backfiring and she is not making the right impression at all.
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Taiesa Lashley. Yes, lookswise she isn’t much, but she has a confident personality and great communication skills. I don’t know if I listened to her introduction video correctly, but apparently she’s in the US military who already had a tour of duty in Afghanistan twice. She also landed in the Top 16 in Performing Talent, but equaling the performance of her predecessor, the gorgeous Esonica Viera, is unlikely.
VENEZUELA – Gabriela Ferrari. Here’s a shocker–she only figured in one challenge event, Top Model! Definitely she is unlikely to duplicate Ivian Sarcos’s victory. But can she make the Top 15, at the very least? Despite the odds being stacked against her, it is still very possible, as we saw pictures of her in a lovely and impeccable structured dress with black floral embroidery on the skirt as she went for her interview. She should make a smashing impression for wearing that outfit at the very least! In most photos, the very first thing that popped in my mind when I looked at her is actress Kate Hudson.
VIETNAM – Vũ Thị Hoàng My. This lady competed in last year’s Miss Universe and it looks like despite the obvious hype across the internet, she will endure a similar fortune in this pageant and miss the final cut. At least she figured in the Top 40 of Beach Fashion and I have to give her credit as she’s a worthwhile contender with a balance of good looks and solid communication skills.
WALES – Sophie Moulds. I have noted that typically the strongest contestant from the British Isles would come from Scotland; the weakest link would typically be from this country. But it is not the case this year and things are topsy-turvy now as this gorgeous girl with the luminously bright eyes is the strongest bet and the likeliest to clinch the Miss United Kingdom title. It is obvious she was shortlisted in both Beach Fashion and Top Model, clinching a Top 10 spot in the former. There also seems to be some reports she was also shortlisted in BWAP, so perhaps she could turn into another possible usurper to the triumvirate of Australia, China, and Mexico.
ZIMBABWE – Bongani Dlakama. Last year’s representative, Malaika Mushandu, was the fast-track queen who amassed the most points to vault into the Top 15. This girl? She did not figure in any challenge event! She will probably figure near the bottom of the pack.
All images courtesy of Miss World, Ltd. unless otherwise indicated.
Now that all 116 contestants are all accounted for, as is customary I shall now trot out my own personal leaderboard:
TOP CONTENDERS: AUSTRALIA, CHINA PR, MEXICO
SHOO-INS: BRAZIL, COLOMBIA, JAMAICA, KAZAKHSTAN, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, SOUTH SUDAN, SPAIN, WALES
LIKELIEST: ARGENTINA, CHILE, CZECH REPUBLIC, ENGLAND, GUADELOUPE, GUATEMALA, HONG KONG CHINA, INDIA, INDONESIA, ISRAEL, MACAU CHINA, NEPAL, NETHERLANDS, NIGERIA, NORTHERN IRELAND, PUERTO RICO, SWEDEN, TURKEY, UKRAINE, VENEZUELA
EXCELLENT: AUSTRIA, BELIZE, EQUATORIAL GUINEA, IRELAND, NEW ZEALAND, NORWAY, PANAMA, PARAGUAY, PORTUGAL, SLOVAKIA, THAILAND, VIETNAM
VERY STRONG: ANGOLA, BAHAMAS, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA, DENMARK, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, GABON, GERMANY, GUAM, HUNGARY, ITALY, JAPAN, KENYA, LITHUANIA, MONGOLIA, SCOTLAND, SEYCHELLES, SOUTH AFRICA, UGANDA, UNITED STATES
STRONG: ALBANIA, ARUBA, BELARUS, BELGIUM, BOLIVIA, BOTSWANA, BULGARIA, COSTA RICA, COTE D’IVOIRE, CYPRUS, ECUADOR, ETHIOPIA, FIJI, FINLAND, FRANCE, GREECE, LATVIA, LEBANON, MALTA, MARTINIQUE, MONTENEGRO, NICARAGUA, PERU, RUSSIA, SERBIA, SLOVENIA, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
VERY GOOD: BARBADOS, BONAIRE, CROATIA, GUYANA, HONDURAS, ICELAND, KOREA, SIERRA LEONE, SRI LANKA, ST. KITTS & NEVIS, SURINAME, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
GOOD: CANADA, GIBRALTAR, MACEDONIA FYR, MALAYSIA, MAURITIUS, SINGAPORE, TANZANIA, URUGUAY
FAIR: EL SALVADOR, GEORGIA, MALAWI, ZIMBABWE
And again, as is customary, here is my “fearful” forecast:
TOP SEVEN: AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, CHINA PR, COLOMBIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, WALES
TOP 15: ISRAEL, KAZAKHSTAN, NEPAL, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, SOUTH SUDAN, SPAIN, UKRAINE
TOP 30: ARGENTINA, CHILE, CZECH REPUBLIC, ENGLAND, GUADELOUPE, GUATEMALA, INDIA, INDONESIA, MACAU CHINA, NIGERIA, NORTHERN IRELAND, PUERTO RICO, SWEDEN, TURKEY, VENEZUELA
BUBBLING UNDER: AUSTRIA, BELIZE, EQUATORIAL GUINEA, HONG KONG CHINA, IRELAND, NETHERLANDS, NEW ZEALAND, NORWAY, PANAMA, PARAGUAY, PORTUGAL, SLOVAKIA, THAILAND, VIETNAM
The grand two-and-a-half hour finale event would be underway in a few hours from now. I wait in bated breath and hope the ideal results would be realized this time.