updated 10 Oct 2012, 09:21
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Wed, Aug 22, 2012
The New Paper
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Miss Singapore is third time lucky
by Charlene Chua

The number 19 was constantly whispered at the Miss Singapore Beauty Pageant 2012 on Saturday night.

And it was fitting that a wedding dinner- style event at the InterContinental Hotel ballroom was won by a wedding planner.

Ms Florence Lim, 23, who wore the No. 19 tag, was a favourite from the start with many of the male guests rooting for her.

Some were even overheard placing bets that she would walk away with the crown.

They were right on the money.

But what they didn't know was that Ms Lim hadn't considered herself a shoo-in for the title.

Having been in two previous pageants and not finishing among the top three, she fretted that this time would also end in "failure".

She told The New Paper: "The hardest thing in life is to overcome (the fear) of failure at something that you have failed at before.

"I took part in Miss Singapore World 2011 and Miss International 2012 and didn't win.

"Well, I didn't do anything different here, but I was certainly more calm this time.

"I told myself to enjoy the experience and I won!"

The pageant does not pick runners- up for the main title.

Ms Lim's megawatt smile and confident gait endeared her to the audience as the 20 finalists were introduced.

And if there were any butterflies, they obviously had been set free before she even set foot on stage.

She said her father always had high expectations of her and had decreed that his middle child graduate from university.

Ms Lim, who has two brothers, said she had expected such academic "responsibilities" to fall on their shoulders.

"When you hear of parents having expectations of their kids, it's always that they want the first-born to get into university and do the family proud.

"My brother is more interested in music and he's a piano teacher so in that sense he's been let off the hook.

"When the weight of expectation fell on me, there was a lot of pressure but I did it, becoming the first person in the family to earn a bachelor's degree (in business management from the Singapore Institute Of Management)."

Adoring fans

Her adoring male fans will be happy to know that Ms Lim, who has been an avid ballet dancer since she was five, is still unattached.

She also excelled in sports and was on her school's athletics and badminton teams.

The self-confessed "independent woman" said she's still single because she hasn't met "Mr Right". But when she does, she'll plan her own dream wedding.

On Saturday night, she was the biggest winner, claiming the Miss Singapore Beauty Queen, Miss Photogenic and Face Of My Cozy Room titles.

But not before some nail-biting moments - the judges had some trouble deciding their final choice for the Top 10.

Nine had already been named to advance to the next round when the emcee announced that there was a tie for the final spot. He summoned Ms Lim and 23-year-old student Pascale Sharma to the front of the stage, but it proved anticlimactic, for the judges decided to let both through.

Ms Lim admitted after the finals that she had shed tears of relief when she realised that she had made it through to the second round.

It also paid off for Ms Sharma, who won the Model of the Year title.

Rocher Ang (Miss Singapore Chinese World), Nicole Olsen (Miss Singapore All Nations) and Tanya Jacob (Miss Singapore Tourism) were the night's other big winners.

The five won a total of $25,000 in cash and prizes and will represent Singapore in their respective pageants in China in the coming months.

Ms Olsen, whose father is Swedish-Portuguese and mother Chinese, said it was her famous cousin - Miss Universe Singapore 2000 and former Nominated Member of Parliament Eunice Olsen - who had inspired her to take part in beauty contests.

Said the 24-year-old Kaplan student: "I remember when we were young, Eunice would always be the older role model whom we all looked up to. She would always talk to us and give us advice and it was a great thing when she won Miss Universe Singapore.

"I've always wanted to be an actress on Channel 5 or Channel 8 and thought that beauty pageants were a good way of getting into the entertainment industry.

"Now that I've won, this can be my stepping stone and who knows, I could be starring in the next blockbuster."

Said Ms Sharma, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel Administration with the University Of Nevada: "The biggest obstacle for me was the race against time. There were days when I had to rush for seven appointments and didn't have time for meals.

"But I'm just so happy to be able to represent Singapore."

Ms Ang, on the other hand, wants to help her furry friends.

"I came into this pageant with the hope that I could help animals. I was telling people that if I won, I wanted to use the pageant as a platform to raise awareness of the stray dog population in Singapore," said the 25-year-old bank executive.

"There are a lot of charity organisations (that help people) but for me, this is my passion.

"I hope people can chip in to rescue stray dogs and make sure they get medical care, food and shelter."

The fair-skinned beauty laughed as she recounted the other reason for taking part in the pageant: Someone had reminded her that she would be turning 26, which is the age limit for participants.

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