Canadian beauty queen Ma ready for an exciting future

09:47, May 07, 2010      

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In China, they say the most beautiful girls come from Hangzhou, Dalian and Suzhou. While the subject is nearly always open to debate, they, whoever "they" is, have obviously never met Lina Ma Yanbing.

Equally smart as she is beautiful, the 22-year-old native of Jinan, Shandong, has her whole life ahead of her, but undoubtedly the last 12 months will be difficult to top.

In early May, the Toronto resident handed over her tiara, ending her one-year reign as Miss World Canada, the first Chinese ever to hold the title.

Speaking in Vancouver where this year's Miss World Canada pageant is being held, the striking 179 cm Ma called the past year a once-in-a-lifetime experience, highlighted by her top-seven finish at the Miss World pageant in South Africa. During the show she sang in front of a television audience numbering more than one billion viewers.

"I got to travel around quite a bit and competing in the Miss Worlds was just a great experience. I was in South Africa for about six weeks. It was just great to meet so many girls from around the world. There were 112 delegates," she said.

"I was quite surprised that I could capture the (Miss World Canada) title. I think it really shows how multicultural Canada is to have a girl with a Chinese face to represent Canada. It was a great honor."

For Ma, who immigrated to Canada when she was nine, Vancouver represents the end of her long associations with beauty pageants.

In 2005, she entered both the Miss Chinese International and Miss Chinese Toronto pageants and failed to muster a top-three finish. In 2008, she entered Miss World Canada, again without success. The following year proved to do the trick as the confident university student dazzled the judges with her poise, grace and singing.

Of her beauty pageant experience, she called it a lot of hard work "but also a lot to learn".

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