South Africa is sending a representative to the Miss World pageant after all: Karen Lourens, 19, Miss Junior Africa, flies to London on Wednesday.

The first-year student at Rand Afrikaans University said she had just received her exam results and was planning her holiday when she got the news on Tuesday afternoon.

Bubbling with excitement Lourens said this was a dream come true.

"It's a dream that every girl has, and it has fortunately come true for me. I want to make my country proud," said the teenager from Florida in the West Rand.

Miss World contestants usually have months to prepare. Lourens has days - the event is on December 7.

Lourens was adamant she didn't want to be seen as a replacement for the reigning Miss South Africa, Vanessa Carreira. "I'm not taking her place, I'm going there as a representative for my country, " she said.

Carolyn Baldwin, owner of Pageants South Africa - which is the new licence holder to send a delegate from South Africa to Miss World - said Miss World pageant organiser Julia Morley had contacted her on Tuesday with the good news. "For my company to be given the licence is such an honour," said Baldwin.

"Karen's chances are fantastic. If she doesn't bring home the crown, I'm confident she will at least be in the top five," said Baldwin.

A spokesperson for Sun International, the previous licence holders, said the matter was with their lawyers and they could not comment. - Staff Reporter