[FLASHBACK] How it feels to be crowned Miss World in her own words


As Miss World gets ready to set foot back in Mexico for the first time since being crowned at the 68th final in Sanya on 8 December 2018, she explains in her own words how she felt that night.

I’m about to go to bed and my heart is still racing...I can’t believe I’ve done it. I am Miss World and I am taking the crown back to Mexico for the very first time.

The day of the final summed up all what I’ve been feeling for the past year. First the excitement but coupled with an overwhelming sense of responsibility of how I can use my time as Miss World to bring about real change.

On the morning of the final we get everything ready to go to our last rehearsal. All the contestants look at each other knowing that this is the last time before the final show...one month in China had flown by so fast.

After rehearsal, it’s a quick bus ride back to the hotel. It’s noisy, and we are all discussing our outfits and make up. I only know how to do one type of make-up and my hair is very easy, so I tell other girls I can help them get ready later.

After a quick lunch we head up to our rooms to get ready. We have three hours which is more than I need, so I put on some music to relax and think about the final question. My throat closes as I know it’s a really important part of the contest and generally I’m not nervous when I answer - but what if I say something wrong? Will all the hard work I’ve been doing for the last couple of years be judged in my final moments?

That’s when the fear starts to creep in. Even though I know that winning doesn’t change who I am and what I’ve achieved. But I really want this! So, I try to forget how I’m feeling while I curl my hair. Slovenia and Tanzania come to my room for help. It’s nice to get ready in a group, we are all happy and running around trying to put on our shoes.

The bus is waiting downstairs. As we leave the hotel, the families and national directors wish their candidates good luck, we all know this is it. One of us will return as Miss World.

On the way back to the Sanya Arena the bus is pretty quiet, so I take the opportunity to hand out my gifts from Mexico. The girls love it - a simple bookmark and a Frida Khalo keychain. On the reverse of the keychain there is a famous quote to inspire them: “Why do I need feet if I have wings to fly.”

Then before I know it, we are five minutes from the start of the live show. I look at USA and we hug, she has really supported me during my month in China, so we encourage each other and head on to the stage.

I give it my all. I’m smiling so hard and try to enjoy it despite my lack of dancing skills. Turns out perfect, or at least I think it is, then it’s quick change to traditional costume.

All the time I’m thinking in my head, ‘This is for México’. Before I know it’s time for the Top 30 to be announced from the fast track events and the judge’s choices. I wait for my name and take my place on stage.

Then we go the top 12. We get into our continental groups and don’t know how many of us will go through. I’m with Chile, Venezuela, USA and Panama...I hear my name first, I’m through, then I hear Panama and I’m about to cry again because she thought she wouldn’t make it. She deserves it, my Latina sister.

Then a quick change into evening gowns and I ask three girls to help me put it on. The suspense, I can’t breathe, will my name be called as the top 5 are announced?

Panama and I are holding hands and shaking...then I hear ‘Mexico’. I close my eyes, then I turn around and all the girls are cheering for me, friends, loyal friends that believe in me. I can’t stop crying. I step forward as the Americas continental queen.

Then as the other continental queens are announced and step forward, I look at the judges as I know the final question is coming. We take our positions and my stomach drops - my hands are colder than usual. I try to comfort Uganda as she is pretty nervous too.

It’s my turn...I hear half of the question and I start speaking. I’m so nervous I can’t remember what I’ve said, but I feel it wasn’t strong enough. I’m sad but can’t show it so I take my final position on stage but can’t stop thinking that it wasn’t my best answer.

We are in our final positions and I am still crying when Julia Morley comes on stage with the results.

“First runner up goes to,” there’s a long silence and I’m too nervous to smile. Then I hear Thailand and the screams from the audience.

Then it’s announced, “Miss world 2018 is,” followed by a silence that fees like an eternity. MEXICO

I can’t believe it, it’s my country, I’ve done it. I walk towards Manushi and try to follow instructions but can’t hear properly. I can’t remember what she says, but as I take my seat on the throne Manushi takes her crown off and places it on my head as I hear the words,” Miss World 2018 is Vanessa Ponce de León from Mexico”

I cry so hard, but I have to stand and smile, I do the walk and can’t wait to hold my sisters and the Mexican flag. Sister Sledge comes in and the girls come down their seats. Then it all goes crazy. Photos, TV and media interviews and people congratulating me. I’m in shock.

Before I know it, it’s 2am, I’m in my bed and I can’t sleep. Images of what could come next are running my mind...I just got my wings, I’m ready to use them. I’m so exited about the year ahead and rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck in.

This is the first time a contestant from Mexico has been crowned Miss World.

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