Although Miss Zimbabwe, Malaika Mushandu, cat-walked her way into the Miss World top 10 in London, she felt it was not good enough.
She says for a country that had pinned so much hope on her, she was a big letdown.
Miss Venezeula, Ivian Lunasol Sarcos, was crowned Miss World while Philippines’ Gwendolene Gaelle was the 1st runner-up with Miss Puerto Rico Amanda Victoria as the 2nd runner-up.
Local pageantry followers had thrown their weight behind the beauty queen right from the start of her campaign.
A disappointed Mushandu told NewsDay she felt she had let down her country.
“I feel like I let Zimbabwe down seriously. I can’t hold it in, I did my best and for once, it wasn’t good enough,” she said.
The beauty queen, however, proved she was a beauty with brains judging from her presentations at Miss World.
The build-up to the show was impressive and promising. She was shortlisted for three major fast-track events including Top Model, Beach Beauty and Beauty with a Purpose.
These three all contributed to the final scoreline as the marks she gained from these events were tallied up and saw her landing ninth position.
She added weight to her achievements by qualifying for the Top 10 Beauty with a Purpose after presenting a DVD of her water and sanitation project in Epworth.
The eloquent Zimbabwean model was visible during camp and was one of the models chosen to address students at the University of Cambridge.
Mushandu said she was grateful to all those who supported her. “When we win, we win with pride, when we lose we lose with dignity. Thank you for the support, Zimbabwe,” she said.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi, who attended the Miss World finale, said Mushandu gave the pageant her best shot.
“Our diamond girl did her best here in London as she made it into the top 10. We were last in the top 10 with Angie (Musasiwa) in 1994. Zimbabwe was mentioned countless times to a billion people who watched this programme on Sunday. Forward ever, Zimbabwe, well done Malaika,” said Mzembi.
Reigning Miss Tourism Zimbabwe, Rumbidzai Mudzengerere, said: “Malaika did remarkably well to have landed the number nine position. I am very excited about her accomplishment because even though she did not get the crown, she was the second best from Africa and the ninth best in the world and that’s something worth celebrating,” said Mudzengerere.
Some people who posted on Mushandu’s Facebook wall said a number of factors militated against her, with her home country having been branded a pariah state, but others said she had done her best.
Mushandu is the second model from Zimbabwe who has made it into the top 10 after Angeline Musasiwa who was placed number four in 1994.
Tanya Chikuni, reigning Miss Curvy Zimbabwe, praised Mushandu saying she had paved the way for other models who did not believe they could win international pageants.