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Ireland's Miss World
Rosanna Davidson

The Emerald Isle's ravishing young 'Lady in red', Rosanna Davidson, was on top of the world in Sanya, China, in December.

Sweeping China's southernmost city off its feet, pop start Chris De Burgh's stunning 19 year-old daughter was crowned one of the most beautiful women on earth.

An estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide watched the conclusion of the oldest continuously operating international beauty contest, held on the tropical island of Hainan.

The new Miss World, a student at University College Dublin, beat out 105 other lovelies to take the top prize, including Miss Canada, Nazanin, Afshin-Jam, the first runner up and Miss China, Guan Qi, the second runner up.

Glitz, glam and feminine glory were in abundance as the Miss World contest was held for the first time in Mainland China. It was the most prestigious pageant ever staged there, and signaled that Communist China is reaching out to the West.

Tinseltown's Jadde Chan and 'Sex in the City' pengirl Candace Bushnell were among the celebrity judges flown in to place the crown on Miss Ireland's head.

Miss Davidson, officially Contestant No. 52, had previously taken the Miss World Beach title, and was the favorite to turn the judges' head in Sanya.

The winner of the Miss Dun Laoghaire contest had also won the right to represent Ireland in the 20th annual Global Hawaiian Tropic beauty contest, but withdrew when her father insisted that she concentrate on her studies.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, and the former Miss Ireland, Andrea Roche, were on hand to wave goodbye to the excited young contestant as she began a three-week stay that included visits to Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

"Rosanna is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime and over the next month she will meet people and experience places that she would probably otherwise never have. The Miss World contest was an experience I will never forget," Miss Roche said.

Miss Davidson hails from the exclusive hills of Dallrey. She was the athletics captain in her fifth and sixth year in school, represented her secondary school in the prestigious All Ireland finals, and after gaining four 'A'grades and two 'B' grades in her Leaving Certificate, entered UCD to study archaeology, sociology and the history of art.

Upon finishing her first year, she represented Ireland at the Miss World contest. The shy, modest beauty hopes to complete her higher education at UCD and pursue a career in arts, fashion, sports science and nutrition.

She speaks English, Irish and French fluently, and is widely traveled, an artist and sculptress who enjoys music, cinema and art, and is an avid dancer who has studied ballet and modern dance. She also participates in athletics, including swimming, snow and waterskiing, hockey, tennis and hill walking.

Her smashing victory helped raise money for charity. In 1951, Eric Morley, the pageant's founder, was managing the Lyceum ballroom in London, and when he found out that the Festival of Britain would take place on the South bank, just across the Thames, he made plans to capitalize on it.

He began encouraging visitors to the Festival to cross Waterloo Bridge by hosting a beauty contest at his dance hall. And so Miss World was born, a competition that has grown into one of the worlds largest and best loved events, with representation in some 140 countries.

Since those humble beginning shortly after the conclusion of world WarII, its motto, "Beauty with a purpose" has enabled it to raise a staggering $100 million to help the world's less fortunate children.

The victory assures the charming UCD student of international fame and fortune, whether on the runways of uber-fashion or in cinema. Some 2 billion viewers watched her triumph, and the Miss World Web site generates more than z million hits a month, with a figure rising as high as 5 million hits a day during the run up to finals.

The organizers have aimed to ensure that; only emphasized by the associated charitable embarked on her quest for the crown.

"Every aspect of the contest will underline the ideals promoted by Miss World, reflecting causes, which benefit from huge amounts of money raised."

However, as she waved to the adoring crowds after her triumph, it was clear that Miss Ireland had brought far, far more. She had brought the world anew and exquisite ideal of womanhood.

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