NETHERLANDS – Jacqueline Steenbeck. For many pageant fans and pundits, her frizzy curls are a bit of a turnoff. But at least she made an impression in the Sports challenge as part of the winning team and apparently being present in all the four rounds in the final (volleyball, waterbucket, plank race, and tug-of-war), so she or Slovakia is likely going to be the solo champion. Plus she has strong communication skills (with a fascinating story about being a midwife and scheduled to deliver her sister-in-law’s child) that could make her a contender for the all-important judges’ interview, and she has her “Free-A-Girl” Beauty with a Purpose project which I find noble.
UPDATE: It has been announced that she’s the winner of the Sports challenge.
NICARAGUA – Luz Decena. She was short-listed in the Sports challenge final. It is known she sat out of the Volleyball round and made way for Canada and Tunisia, and saw action in the remaining rounds. Though lookswise, she is otherwise not that remarkable, she does have a vibrant personality (even if she can only speak Spanish).
POLAND – Katarzyna Krzeszowska. Pageant fans and pundits have a good impression of her, but thus far she has not figured in any of the challenge events. She seems polished enough, so what gives? Anyway, hopefully the numerous charities as rattled off by her Beauty with a Purpose video could give her an edge.
RUSSIA – Elmira Abdrazakova. Pageant fans and pundits didn’t have a high regard for her when she won her national pageant, but at least she figured in the Top 32 of Beach Fashion. She does make a good impression and could be classified as good looking (and at some angles, could sometimes pass for Megan Young). Now much remains to be seen if she’ll be favored in the judges’ interview.
SAMOA – Panina Paeu. She is attractive, and she speaks with a charming New Zealand accent.
SLOVAKIA – Karolína Chomistekova. Though I think Miss Czech Republic is prettier, this lady seems to have the bigger edge as she figured in three challenge events thus far: she made Top 32 of Beach Fashion, she seems to be on-track to be the champion of the Sports challenge event (it seems to be either her or the Netherlands) and with her violin playing skills she made the finals of the Talent challenge. Only a disastrous interview would prevent her from being a shoo-in for the Top 20 but thus far she seems to be a good communicator with a likable personality.
SOUTH SUDAN – Modong Manuela Mogga. Her dark ebony skin and her prominent eyes are key for her to make an impact in the looks-oriented challenge events, making the Top 32 of Beach Fashion and making a major splash becoming a Top Model finalist. Her lacy white number at the Top Model event seemed sheer, but fortunately covered by strategically placed lace. She is well-spoken, though not as eloquent as last year’s Miss World – Africa Atong Demach, but it looks like she’s on track for a Top 20 spot.
SWITZERLAND – Cindy Williner. After an absence of a few years, it’s nice to see this country back in this pageant. Sure she is plain and has not figured in any challenge event, but it’s a start, at least. She may not have a Beauty with a Purpose video, but she has a project that is documented on the Miss World website.
TANZANIA – Brigitte Lyimo. She seems rather raw, so it is expected why she has not figured in any challenge event thus far. She has made serious inroads in her Beauty with a Purpose project on albinos, it was announced she placed 3rd.
TUNISIA – Hiba Telmoudi. Here is another country that is nice to see back after a 35-year absence. The previous representative was memorable for trying to keep a veil on her face until she was threatened with disqualification. There are no qualms for this lady regarding the face, as it’s there for all to see. She is attractive, though the closest thing to making the fast-track was participating in the volleyball round of the Sports challenge. Wonder if we’ll see the caliber of the one who won 1st runner-up at Miss International back in 1996? Still, we should treat this country with a warm welcome.
TURKEY – Ruveyda Öksüz. She seems to be a pretty and refreshing ingenue, but she has not figured in any of the challenge events thus far, and she seems to not have a Beauty with a Purpose project. Could she be in contention for the “Holly Carpenter” award? Or at least could she have earned some credits in the Top Model event, as she looked rather elegant and polished in the event?
UGANDA – Stellah Nantumbwe. She is notable for her eyebags. Her redeeming factor is that she seems to be well-spoken. It is not surprising why she has not figured in any challenge event thus far.
UKRAINE – Anna Zayachkivska. She is one of only five ladies who figured in both the finals of Beach Fashion and Top Model. She also garnered 3rd place in Talent as she sang an original song in Ukrainian. Miss Georgia may have targeted her in particular regarding her placement in Top Model, as it was reported she was awkwardly carrying the skirt of her gown, though I think there is justification in her placement as she still looked regal and elegant, and there are princesses in antiquity who carry their voluminous skirts in that manner. It seems that besides the usual suspects of Spain, Brazil, and France, this lady may be the possible usurper of the Filipinos’ collective dreams of finally garnering its first Miss World title. It’s interesting to note that though there is documented video footage of her working with children, there is no Beauty with a Purpose project submitted and reflected on the pageant website or on Miss World’s official YouTube channel. But then again, remember when Ivian Sarcos won two years ago even without earning points for such a project?
UZBEKISTAN – Rakhima Ganieva. Though her introduction video showed her with a crown, reportedly she is repudiated by Uzbek officials, claiming they never held a pageant, even accusing her of not being a native of their nation and lying about her background. So far she isn’t disqualified, but neither is she figuring in any of the challenge events.
VIETNAM – Lai Huong Thao. She is another competitive contender from Asia, but is currently overshadowed and she even failed to figure in any challenge event thus far. It seems she has no Beauty With a Purpose project. So she’s now ending up as “just another pretty face”.
Now with the Yellow Team all accounted for, let me trot out my leaderboard for this group:
TOP CONTENDERS: GHANA, iTALY, UKRAINE
SHOO-INS: AUSTRALIA, SLOVAKIA
LIKELIEST: BULGARIA, COTE D’IVOIRE, CZECH REPUBLIC, MALAYSIA, MARTINIQUE, NETHERLANDS, RUSSIA, SOUTH SUDAN,
CHALLENGE EVENT FACTOR: BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS, CANADA, NICARAGUA, TANZANIA
EXCELLENT: GEORGIA, IRELAND, NAMIBIA, POLAND, TURKEY, VIETNAM
VERY STRONG: MACEDONIA FYRO, SAMOA, TUNISIA
VERY GOOD: SWITZERLAND, UZBEKISTAN
GOOD: HONDURAS, UGANDA