updated 14 Sep 2013, 21:55
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Sun, Sep 08, 2013
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A couple of winners
by Catherine Robert

Singapore - For this dating couple, it was probably one of the highlights of their three-year relationship.

Miss Vanessa Tham and Mr Jazer Chia not only joined their first modelling contest together on impulse, they ended up winning in the female and male category, respectively.

The pair beat 22 contenders to be crowned Mr and Miss Best Model of The World Singapore 2013 at Ultra Lounge Pangaea at Marina Bay Sands on Wednesday night.

The annual pageant is in its third year.

Contestants were judged on their performance in four categories - casual wear, street wear, swim wear and evening wear.

When Mr Chia was crowned first, Miss Tham said the pressure fell on her.

She told The New Paper: "My heart was beating really fast! Honestly, I would have been so disappointed if I wasn't called because it definitely is a dream come true for both Jazer and me to represent Singapore overseas."

Said Mr Chia: "As I was standing there with the sash on me, I was just hoping that it would be Vanessa. That's all that was going through my head at that moment."

She said: "I mean, what are the chances? It was the first time for both of us, so I was hoping that this would be a start for us, together as a couple.

"When they announced my name, I was in complete shock and speechless."

It all started when their mutual friend goaded them into taking part "for fun".

"We definitely supported each other from the start. We worked out together and I even chose her bikini for the swimsuit segment," said Mr Chia, a 27-year-old freelance tutor.

"I used to work in a swimsuit retail store, so I knew what would suit her and I think she did very well in the swimsuit segment."

Luckily for them, the unexpected results saved not just a broken ego, but a hole in the pocket as well.

"We decided if one won, the losing party would have to buy a ticket to Belgium for the international finals in November to support the other," said Miss Tham, a 21-year-old student at Murdoch University's Singapore campus.

"But no matter the outcome, we promised to support each other throughout, and we were ready to fly out for the finals."

Each won an all-expenses-paid trip to Belgium, a $1,000 cash prize and $5,000 worth of prizes from sponsors.

"Both of us have never been to that part of the world before and it will be yet another first for us," said Miss Tham, adding that they've only travelled abroad together once before, when they spent a week in Krabi, Thailand.

The Nanyang Polytechnic alumni met at a leadership camp, which they were initially reluctant to attend, at their former school.

Mr Chia, the tallest contestant at 1.88m and weighing 72kg, said: "When I first saw her at the camp, I thought she was very pretty. I wanted to get her number but never plucked up the courage to do it.

"So when we played a game, I actually looked at the group she chose and swapped with my friend because I thought they were going to group us together. But we weren't."


Miss Tham, who stands at 1.72m and weighs 45kg, said: "I noticed him at the camp too because he was the tallest one there. And I remember him wearing these red sports shoes which made me think 'Wah not bad, he's got some fashion sense and is very stylish'."

The pair didn't speak to each other at the camp, but it was thanks to a certain list that eventually brought them together.

"The organisers of the camp gave us a list of everyone's names and numbers, so I added her on Facebook and that's where we started talking," said Mr Chia.

One of the judges, Miss Sharin Keong, who won The New Paper New Face 2012 and Best Model Of The World Singapore 2011, said the panel was kept in the dark about their romance.

When she found out, Miss Keong said: "What? Really? They are still together now? That's crazy. I had no clue."

She then joked: "That's cool... they can go on a free holiday to Belgium together."

Of their individual potential, Miss Keong said: "For Jazer, we decided on him because of his height. It's an important factor, especially for international pageants. He's good on the catwalk, but his complexion needs improvement.

"As for Vanessa, she just had the X-factor and she's very confident on the runway although she's a bit too skinny. But her hair makes her stand out."

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