Miss South Africa runner-up Bryoni Govender is in El Salvador to compete in the Miss Universe 2023 on Saturday and judging by the videos and pictures posted on social media, she is loving every minute.
According to the Miss South Africa organisers, the 26-year-old from Morningside, in Johannesburg, is emerging as one of the frontrunners at the competition.
Speaking from El Salvador, Govender said: “I want the world to stop spinning on its axis so I can breathe it all in and savour this glorious time. Meeting wonderful women from all over the world and connecting with them at so many levels has been a true delight. It’s all going too quickly. I want more time to enjoy every precious moment.”
The national costume show will be on Thursday. South Africa’s national gown – by KwaZulu-Natal designer Casey Jeanne – celebrates Govender’s Indian South African heritage and is an African-Indian fusion ensemble, inspired by a sari and adorned with traditional Zulu beads in an Ndebele print pattern.
Contestants from 85 countries are competing in the competition. For the first time, the Miss Universe Organisation has allowed married women and women with children to compete.
Rikkie Kollé of the Netherlands and Marina Machete of Portugal are the second and third transgender entrants to compete at Miss Universe, following Ángela Ponce of Spain in 2018.
Camila Avella of Colombia and Michelle Cohn of Guatemala are the first married women and mothers to compete. This edition also marks the debut of Pakistan, and the return of Denmark, Egypt, Guyana, Hungary, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mongolia, Norway and Zimbabwe to the competition.
The Miss Zimbabwe Universe contestant, Brooke Bruk-Jackson, is also Govender’s room-mate.
Bonney Gabriel of the US will crown her successor.
The finale will be broadcast live on SABC 3 (DStv Channel 193) from 3am on Sunday and repeated later at 7.30pm.