Two years after her heart-breaking loss at the Miss World pageant in the United States in 2016, Australian-Filipino beauty queen Catriona Elisa M. Gray was crowned 2018 Miss Universe before a packed audience at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday morning.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Gray said that her mother had imagined her winning the Miss Universe crown.
Gloria Diaz was the first Filipina to be crowned Miss Universe and the third Asian to win the pageant. From that age, Pia was determined to take part in the Miss Universe beauty pageant, and made several attempts to enter, training for three years while also working as a lifestyle journalist.
"She pretends to know so much English and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and goes [nods and smiles]", Summers said.
Gray holds a Master Certificate in Music Theory. "I may now carry the sash of Miss Universe, but I'll forever be your Miss Philippines", she said.
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Taking to Instagram to thank her team for their hard work, Catriona shared a memory of her mum.
Ms Gray regularly campaigns for HIV/AIDS awareness, documenting her own HIV test on Instagram. The second runner-up was Miss Venezuela Isabella Rodríguez.
In her interview on the Bottomline before she left for Bangkok, Catriona talked about her love for Filipino textiles - and she made sure these would be incorporated in her outfits for Miss Universe.
This year's contest is not the first foray into the world of pageantry for multi-talented catwalk queen Catriona Gray.
In a statement, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said Gray "showcased the genuine qualities defining a Filipina beauty: confidence, grace, intelligence and strength in the face of tough challenges".
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The contestants spent almost a month in Thailand to compete in preliminary rounds wearing elaborate national costumes, visit famous tourist sites and even met the country's prime minister.
The last was Pia Wurtzbach, who was crowned in 2015 following host Steve Harvey's mistake in naming the wrong victor. The lava walk went insane viral, with people tagging supermodel Tyra Banks and exclaiming how proud she'd be of that heart-stopping walk and flawless twirl!
"Can you imagine? Francesca (Miss Australia) said that would be so isolating and I said yes and just confusing all the time", Summers said.
Catriona Grey, Miss Philippines, was named the 2018 Miss Universe Sunday night.
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