JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Russian blonde Kseniya Sukhinova was crowned the 58th Miss World Saturday after a two-hour spectacle in South Africa that combined elements of travelogue and reality show, and the kind of flag-waving usually seen at sports events.
Sukhinova beamed as she was crowned, and was composed and smiling moments afterward in a brief interview with The Associated Press. She said her immediate ambitions included meeting Russia's president, and that she planned to return soon to her studies at the Tyumen Oil and Gas University in her home region of northwestern Siberia.
"I am so happy to be here," she said of South Africa, which was hosting its sixth Miss World final. "I am so excited. It's amazing."
Sukhinova, who in a biography on the Miss World Web site listed becoming a super model as a goal, also had won the contest's top model award and was third in the swimsuit competition. She was a crowd favorite — though not as popular as hometown beauty Miss South Africa, Tansey Coetzee. Coetzee made the final five.
Second runner up was Miss Trinidad and Tobago, Gabrielle Walcott. First runner up was Miss India, Parvathy Omankuttan. Miss Angola, Brigite Santos, completed the top five.
In addition to the swim suit and modeling segments, the 109 contestants competed in a "pentathlon" that included building a small boat and taking soccer penalty kicks; a talent show; and an event showcasing their charity work in the monthlong lead-up to Saturday's live international broadcast.
The contest was to have taken place in Ukraine, but was moved to South Africa because of tensions between Russia and Georgia and fears conflict could spread to Ukraine. South Africa has hosted more Miss World finals than any other country.
South Africa, often in the news for its high violent crime rate and questions about whether it will pull off hosting the 2010 soccer World Cup, made the most of the attention. The broadcast included clips of the contestants visiting game parks, golf courses and pristine beaches in South Africa and dancing in the famed Johannesburg township of Soweto. South Africans designed evening and beach wear and jewelry for the 109 contestants.
"I've experienced South African culture and everyday traditions," Sukhinova told the AP.