Spanish model wins Miss World title

Miss Spain (centre) holds hands with Miss Russia (left) and Miss Indonesia after being crowned.
Miss Spain (centre) holds hands with Miss Russia (left) and Miss Indonesia after being crowned.PHOTO: EPA

SANYA, China  - Miss Spain has been announced as the winner of this year's Miss World competition.

Mireia Lalaguna Royo is a 23-year-old model from Barcelona with a degree in pharmacology and plans to pursue a master’s degree in nutrition, according to reports.

She was handed the crown in the southern Chinese island resort of Sanya by last year's winner Rolene Strauss of South Africa.

Miss Russia, Sofia Nikitchuk, was named first runner-up, while Miss Indonesia, Maria Harfanti, was second runner-up.

“Without the love I have received from all of the people I have met here, and from all of the people wishing me well and supporting me at home, I would never have gotten to this point,” said Royo, according to a statement released by the event’s organisers.

“I want to show them and the world that I am deserving of the Miss World title and I hope to do everyone proud.” 

According to the Miss World website, Miss Spain is skilled pianist and likes to run, read and ski in her spare time.

The trio had battled it out with Miss Jamaica and Miss Lebanon as the final five, after the remaining women lost out.

This year's competition was dogged by controversy after Miss Canada - 25-year-old Anastasia Lin -  was barred from travelling to the pageant because of her human rights activism.

The beauty queen, who moved to Canada as an adolescent, has actively denounced human rights abuses in China, notably its persecution of practitioners of spiritual group Falungong. 

She is herself a practitioner of Falugong, and testified in July at a US congressional hearing on religious persecution in China.

Despite not receiving an invitation from the Chinese organisers of the event, Ms Lin decided to travel to Sanya where tourists can apply for a visa on arrival, but was not allowed to board a connecting flight at Hong Kong's airport.

The newly crowned Miss World traditionally spends her winning year based in London and travelling the world representing the Miss World Organisation and its associated causes and charities.