South African crowned Miss Universe

Colombian finishes second, Jamaican places third

A South African beauty queen who helps train women in self-defence was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday at the pageant held in Las Vegas.

Miss Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, 22, hails from the Western Cape province and recently earned a business management degree from North-West University.

Her passion for self-defence was reinforced when she was hijacked and held at gunpoint a month after winning her title as Miss South Africa, she said in a video on the Miss Universe website.

She also said her disabled half-sister has been among her great inspirations.


In the "Final Word" portion of the competition, Miss Nel-Peters said: "Miss Universe is a woman who has overcome many fears, and by that she is able to help many women overcome their fears...

"She is a woman that nothing is ever too much to ask for. And I think that is exactly who I am."

Miss Colombia Laura Gonzalez, also 22, was the first runner-up. She has been preparing to be an actress since she was 16.

The second runner-up was Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett, 21, a model pursuing a degree in marketing. She also works with deaf students and is involved in the development of a new sign language app.

In the pageant's 66th year, more than 90 women from around the globe - including first-timers from Cambodia, Laos and Nepal - took part.

Singapore was represented by 24-year-old artist Manuela Bruntraeger. - REUTERS/AFP