She beat 120 international contestants each deemed to be not only the most beautiful in their home countries, but the best example of what it means to be a modern woman.
So, who is Rolene Strauss - aka Miss World 2014 - and is she really one of the world’s most eligible women? This year’s crop which made it to the finals in London - the city where the competition started 63 years ago - far from being the stereotypical ‘dumb beauty queens’, were pretty and polished. The majority hold a university degree, as well as juggling a vast array of interests, hobbies and charity work. Miss Strauss - whose first runner up was Miss Hungary, Edina Kulcsar, and second runner up was Miss United States, Elizabeth Safrit - is the perfect example of that. She piped her fellow contestants to clinch first place in an action-packed three weeks that included a sports, top model and beach fashion competition, a talent contest, Beauty With A Purpose round and a debate at the Oxford Union.
Rolene’s principle passion is medicine. The beauty queen is a fourth year medical student and science is clearly in her blood. Her parents are a doctor and nurse, and in a pre-taped interview for the pageant, Rolene said that becoming Miss South Africa and Miss World and studying medicine were her ‘childhood dreams’. ‘Everyone in my town called me Little Dr Strauss,’ she said. ‘Because I was always the little curly-headed girl running around behind my dad in the hospital.
‘I’m a test tube baby and I believe my passion for health was born with me,’ she added. As well as being a medical student, Rolene is bilingual and speaks fluent English, as well as Afrikaans. Writing on her website, she explains that she’s always had ‘big dreams’. She said: ‘We moved to a small town called Volksrust, in Mpumalanga. Ever since then I was a small town girl with big dreams.
‘To be the best me, to follow my destiny and someday be a woman who uses what she was given out of grace; to inspire, to love, to sympathize and to give.’ Obviously religious, she adds: ‘The following verse never fails to give me goose bumps: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11. We all have a future of hope, a destiny planned for each as individual. The choices we make are the turns we take on the road to our destinies.’ Paying tribute to her country after being crowned, she said: ‘South Africa this is for you. I think I will brace myself for what’s about to happen.
It’s a huge responsibility.’ Rolene is determined to use her new crown for the good of the community. She told AFP she wanted to help spread education in her homeland and thereby help other people realise their dreams. ‘I am what I am today because of the opportunities I have received and I would love to give others the same opportunities; educating, the opportunity to be educated, to make healthy choices and also to live their dreams.’ And she was already getting used to the glittering crown. ‘I’ll definitely keep it on as long as I can but my parents are staying around here so they’ll be hugging me and I’m afraid that it might fall off,’ she said.
There’s good news for all the men out there; Miss Strauss is single. In a recent interview with the South African TV Authority, she was asked how many boyfriends she’d ever dumped. She replied: ‘I would say three.’ When asked about her relationship status, she said: ‘I definitely don’t have a public relationship.
‘You know, as a Miss South Africa people look up to you and see you as an independent, strong woman. That’s the picture I’d like to show people out there and I think it’s difficult to be in a relationship because of your busy schedule.’ Tough competition: Sunday’s show started with a spectacular choreographed dance routine, with all the beauty queens on stage in costumes inspired by their homelands and they had to compete in several rounds to win the crown. This year’s event has been rocked by the murder of Miss Honduras, 19-year-old Maria Jose Alvarado, who was shot dead along with her sister last month. Police in Honduras accuse her sister’s boyfriend of shooting them after seeing his partner dancing with another man at a party. Strauss and other contestants will travel to the crime-plagued Central American nation to build a school named in the sisters’ honour. ‘We hope that it will really start to impress on the people in Honduras that the violence, and hurting people like those two innocent women... maybe they can think again before they take a gun,’ Miss World chairwoman Julia Morley told AFP.
Miss World began in 1951, a year before its chief rival Miss Universe. Strauss is the third South African Miss World, the country having held the title in 1958 and 1974. Venezuela tops the all-time leader board with six titles, ahead of India and the United Kingdom on five titles each.Julia Morley, Miss World Chairman, said: ‘It was great to bring the 64th Miss World Final back to London where it all began 63 years ago.
‘I’m looking forward to travelling with Rolene, the new Miss World, to visit countries around the globe to support this year’s finalists Beauty with a Purpose fundraising projects.’