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Sunday December 2, 2007
By CHOW HOW BAN
SANYA (China): A 23-year-old secretary from a small town in China was crowned Miss World in a glittering event themed The Right to Dream, hosted by her home nation last night.
Zhang Zilin, from Shijiazhuang in Hebei province, beat 105 contestants to become the first Chinese to win the pageant since its inception in 1951.
The closest that a Chinese representative had come to winning the crown was when Guan Qi became second runner-up in 2003.
Malaysias Deborah Priya Henry advanced into the semi-finals along with 15 other beauties in the competition that also honoured World AIDS Day.
They included Miss Angola Micaela Reis (first runner-up) and Miss Mexico Carolina Moran Gordillo (second runner-up). The other finalists were Annie Oliv of Sweden and Valene Maharaj of Trinidad & Tobago.
The newly-crowned Miss World posted only one word Dream in her blog.
She had likened her journey in the pageant to a dreamland but she realised it was a dream no more when she was crowned.
With pressure of representing the host nation on her shoulders, the stunning 1.82m-tall beauty queen won the hearts of a panel of nine judges with her poise, intelligence and her quick-minded and convincing comment, in English, on why she should be crowned.
Im now standing on the stage of Miss World because 1.3 billion people in China support me.
The Beijing Olympic Games will be held next year.
If I become Miss World, I want to be the link between the Miss World Organisation and the world and to use the power and beauty to support those in need, said Zhang, who received her crown from outgoing winner Tatana Kucharova.
Zhang is an active athlete and likes travelling, reading and watching movies.
Former South African president Nelson Mandela presented a recorded message on HIV/AIDS devastating Africa during the live telecast, watched by an estimated audience of two billion.
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