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SA Indian gets a shot at Miss World title

A South African Indian medical student could become the next Miss World after a strange quirk of fate got her a shot at the contest.

india Updated: Dec 10, 2005 11:26 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

A South African Indian medical student could become the next Miss World after a strange quirk of fate got her a shot at the contest to be hosted in China next month.

Dhiveja Sundrum, 23, a fifth-year medical student from Cape Town, was the first runner-up in the Miss South Africa contest from which the winner, Claudia Henkel, was to represent the country in the Miss World contest.

However, Henkel will not be able to participate as she is contractually bound to hand over her crown to the new Miss South Africa on December 10, the same night that the Miss World Pageant takes place on the Chinese island resort of Sanya.

As she prepared to leave for China later this week, Sundrum said although she had a very strong Indian heritage, she was also very proud to be a South African.

Sundrum credited her mother, Veena, for having launched her on a modelling career at the age of five, although it was for reasons other than winning beauty pageants - she attended modelling classes to learn to walk upright because she slouched too much and was taller than her friends.

The first time Sundrum, the eldest of three children, entered a beauty pageant was last year when she won the Miss Cape Peninsula crown. From there the Miss South Africa contest was a logical next step.

Intending to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology, the beauty whose final exams were moved forward to accommodate her schedule for the Miss World Contest by the University of Cape Town, will vie with a host of professionals from all over the world, including pharmacologists, architects, television news readers, and even an airport security officer and a champion roller skater.

Although only two contestants from each continent will be selected for the final 12, Sundrum was confident that she would do both her country and her continent proud, spurred on by her mother on the days she felt a little less sure of her chances.

The only other South African Indian who has participated in the Miss World contest was Kerishnie Naicker, Miss South Africa 1997 and now a successful businesswoman and activist on health and social issues.

First Published: Nov 26, 2005 16:03 IST