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Wed, Dec 17, 2008
The New Paper
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She is India's No 1

THOUGH India's representative at the Miss World pageant came in second, many are celebrating her unwavering composure.

Russia's Kseniya Sukhinova clinched the Ms World title, while Ms Gabriel Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago was second-runner up. Miss Angola, Brigite Santos, completed the top five in the event held in South Africa.

Ms Parvathy Omanakuttan - the sole Asian in the final five - held steady despite carrying expectations of a billion people and not distracted by the recent terrorist attacks at a Mumbai hotel where her father manages a restaurant.

India had high hopes on 21-year-old Parvathy to win the crown that last came to the country in 2000.

After all, the country boasts of Miss Worlds like Rita Faria (1966), Aishwarya Rai (1994), Diana Hayden (1997), Yukta Mookhey (1999) and Priyanka Chopra (2000).

Ms Parvathy, an English literature student from Mithibai College in Mumbai, juggled preparing for the pageant and training in the gym, with her studies and pursuing her favourite sports like basketball and badminton.

The 1.76m trained Indian classical dancer was quoted saying: 'I am trying to be a stronger person to face the contest. I'll try my level best to make every Indian all over the world proud.'

So when the results came in last Saturday, there was jubilation as well as some disappointment at her ancestral village in Kerala.

Close to two dozen of her close relatives gathered at her mother's home in Madapally village in Kottayam district to watch it on television, reported The Hindu.

Prior to the event, close family members visited a few temples to offer prayers for her success.

When results were announced, her family members were jubilant.

Said her grandmother, Madam Shantakumari: 'We are happy that she came second. If she had not won anything, then it would have been bad.'


 Said her brother proudly: 'We'll do everything that we had planned for her victory and she has been victorious. She has achieved whatever she had planned.'

Added her cousin Murli: 'Right now, I'm on top of the world. Had she won the crown the scenario would have been different. But that is okay. We are going to celebrate, we are celebrating. India is proud and we are proud of her.'

And the pageant is just the beginning for the south Indian beauty who hopes to follow in the footsteps of her predecessors.

'Bollywood yes, if the right kind of roles come by. I look forward to completing my MBA though. It's very important to have a back-up plan as a career in modelling or films doesn't last forever,' she said.

The night went to 21-year-old leggy Russian blonde Kseniya Sukhinova.

Shortly before her win, she said that being nervous made her 'feel stronger'.

She beat 108 other contestants aged 17 to 25 and takes over from Zhang Zi Lin of China to become the 58th Miss World.

She becomes the second Miss Russia to win the global event after Julia Kourochkina took the crown in 1992.

She was a crowd favourite - though not as popular as hometown beauty Miss South Africa, Tansey Coetzee, who made the final five.

The contest was to have taken place in Ukraine, but was moved to South Africa because of tensions between Russia and Georgia and fears conflict could spread to Ukraine. South Africa has hosted more Miss World finals than any other country.

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