Miss Czech Republic takes Miss World crown

Tatana Kucharova, photo: CTK

Heightened anti-terrorist measures, a wiretapping scandal and an uncertain political situation - the news from the Czech Republic is pretty glum these days but over the weekend a blonde, blue-eyed 18-year-old provided a welcome diversion from the country's problems: she became the first ever Czech beauty queen to win the Miss World Beauty Contest founded in 1951 and held this year in the Polish capital Warsaw.

Tatana Kucharova, photo: CTK
The blonde, blue-eyed Czech beauty queen dressed in a tight-fitting white gown fought back tears as the Miss World sash was draped over her shoulder and a glittering crown placed on her head. In a country reputed for beautiful girls she had reached the very top. At eighteen Tatana Kucharova is not yet out of high school but already she has the world at her feet - or so it seemed on the night of her coronation:

"I still can't believe it - it's a dream come true for me," the new Miss World told reporters.

The two-hour pageant - which took place in a post-communist state for the first time ever - was watched by some two billion people in 200 countries around the world. But paradoxically, in the Czech Republic very few people saw Tatana Kucharova's triumph. Interest in beauty contests has waned to such an extent that for the first time this year none of the country's commercial or public TV stations showed an interest in broadcasting Miss World. Tatana Kucharova nevertheless says that she will do her best to represent the Czech Republic well abroad.

Photo: CTK
"I will do my best for the Czech Republic. I am very proud to be Czech and since I will now be traveling a lot and doing a great deal for charity I hope that I will make my country more visible and help it in whatever way I can."

Although Tatana's first thought on her victory was of her family and friends she will not be spending much time in her home town of Opocno in the coming year. The new Miss World will be living in London which will serve as home base on her frequent travels around the world.