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South African self-defence trainer crowned Miss Universe

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Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, 22, who unleashed a big smile when she won, hails from Western Cape Province and recently earned a business management degree from North-West University.

[LAS VEGAS] A South African woman who helps train women in self-defence was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday at the pageant held in Las Vegas, with Miss Colombia and Miss Jamaica also making it to the final three.

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, 22, who unleashed a big smile when she won, hails from Western Cape Province and recently earned a business management degree from North-West University.

Her passion for self-defence was reinforced when she was hijacked and held at gunpoint about a month after winning her title as Miss South Africa, she said in a video on the Miss Universe website.

Miss Colombia, Laura González, 22, was the first runner-up.

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She has been preparing to be an actress since the age of 16. After graduating from a performing arts school, she moved to Bogotá to build her career.

The second runner-up was Miss Jamaica, Davina Bennett, 21. She is a model pursuing a degree in marketing at the University of the West Indies.

In the pageant's 66th year, nearly 100 women from around the globe - including first-timers from Cambodia, Laos and Nepal - took part.

The current Miss Universe, Iris Mittenaere from France, crowned her successor to a din of squeals and cheers.

American comic turned TV host Steve Harvey returned to the Miss Universe stage for a third time.

In 2015 he made a mistake heard round the world when he announced the wrong person as winner, resulting in an extremely uncomfortable, tense correction.

Grammy-winning singer Fergie and pop star Rachel Platten provided the musical entertainment for Sunday's show.

REUTERS, AFP

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