Thursday, Jun 05, 2003
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The final five contestants (L-R), Miss Venezuela Mariangel Ruiz, Miss Japan Miyako Miyazaki, Miss South Africa Cindy Nell, Miss Dominican Republic Amelia Vega and Miss Serbia and Montenegro Sanja Papic, wait for the winner of the Miss Universe pageant to be announced at the contest in Panama City on Tuesday. Reuters
The outgoing titleholder, Justine Pasek of Panama slipped the crown on the head of the winner, who smiled widely and waved to the crowd.
Ms Vega (18), is the niece of the famed merengue singer, Juan Luis Guerra, and the daughter of her country's representative in the 1980 Miss Universe pageant.
The first-runner up was Miss Venezuela, the Cinderella of the contest: the 22-year-old almost couldn't come to the competition, because of financial problems in her home country. A donor finally turned up to meet the costs of her trip. The second-runner up was South Africa's Cindy Nell (21), a tourism promoter.
Miss Serbia and Montenegro, Sanja Papic, was the third runner-up and Miss Japan, Miyako Miyzaki, was fourth runner-up.
Dropping out after reaching the top 10 were women from Trinidad and Tobago, the Czech Republic, Namibia, Canada and Brazil. An earlier cut took out Misses USA, Greece, Panama, Angola and Peru.
However, India's Ms Anand even failed to make it to the top 10.
A local favourite who dropped out earlier was Miss Colombia, Diana Mantilla, who had released a record of her songs here.
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