India’s Manushi Chhillar, who won the Miss World pageant last year, on Saturday passed the baton to Mexico’s Vanessa Ponce De Leon at a glitzy ceremony, where the first runner-up title went to Thailand’s representative and Femina Miss India 2018 Anukreethy Vas failed to make it even to the top 12.

Miss World 2018: Vanessa Ponce De Leon of Mexico gets crown
Miss Mexico Vanessa Ponce de Leon (R) reacts after being crowned the 68th Miss World by Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar (L) in Sanya on December 8, 2018. (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP)

 

“I can’t believe it, I really can’t believe it… And I think all the girls deserved it. I am proud to represent all of them. I will do as much as I can in the time I have got. Thank you so much, everyone,” Vanessa said backstage after winning the crown at the Sanya City Arena here.

Miss World 2018: Vanessa Ponce De Leon of Mexico gets crown
Miss Mexico Vanessa Ponce de Leon reacts after winning the 68th Miss World contest final in Sanya on December 8, 2018. (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP)

 

The 26-year-old smiled away with moist eyes as she folded her hands in gratitude to gesture the traditional Indian ‘Namaste’ greeting when Manushi placed the elaborate crown on her head. She took a walk as the newly-crowned beauty queen, waving at the crowd and wrapped up the evening with a celebratory dance with co-contestants.

Miss World 2018: Vanessa Ponce De Leon of Mexico gets crown
Miss Mexico Vanessa Ponce de Leon (C) after winning the 68th Miss World contest final with runner-up Miss Thailand Nicolene Pichapa Limsnukan (L), Miss Belarus Maria Vasilevich (2nd L), Miss Jamaica Kadijah Robinson (obscured) and Miss Panama Solaris Barba (R) in Sanya on December 8, 2018. (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP)

 

Having pursued a degree in International Business, Vanessa is currently on the board of directors of a rehab centre for girls and volunteers for ‘Migrantes en el Camino’. She is a speaker for the National Youth Institute as well as working as a model and a presenter.

An adventurous soul, she has qualified as an open water scuba diver, and also enjoys playing volleyball, painting and ultimate Frisbee, according to the official Miss World website.

Thailand’s representative Nicolene Pichapa Limsnukan, 20, got the runner-up spot. Others in the top 5 included contestants from Belarus, Jamaica, and Uganda.

Indians were keeping their fingers crossed for Anukreethy after Manushi broke a years-long jinx for India at the Miss World beauty pageant last year. But Anukreethy, a native of Tiruchirappalli, made it to the top 30 but failed to make the cut to the top 12 at the gala.

A total of 118 contestants participated in the contest this year.