FOR the first time in the history of the Miss World competition, two contestants - Miss Canada Yanbing Ma and Sierra Leone's Mariatu Kargbo - were declared joint winners of the Miss Talent final held at the Victory Theatre in Johannesburg yesterday.
Miss Canada sang a rendition of Puccini's O mio babbino caro from the opera Gianni Schicchi, while Miss Sierra Leone performed an extraordinary dance with multiple face mask changes and fire-eating.
Kargbo said: "I spent six months in China learning the skills to perform my routine. I wanted to do something unique that no one else would have the ability to do."
She also wrote the music she performed and played the drums on the backing track.
Miss World events director Stephen Douglas Morley said: "The judges, producers and directors all agreed that both talents presented could not be separated, and both deserved first place and will both perform at the Miss World final at Gallagher Estates on December 12."
Second place went to Kim Joo Ri from Korea, who performed a ballet. Third place went to Norway's Sara Skjoldnes for her rendition of Only Hope from the movie A walk to remember, while fourth place was awarded to Australia's Sophie Lavers for a contemporary ballet piece.
Ma and Kargbo will join Miss Japan Eruza Sasaki, who was named Miss World Sportswoman last week. They will all be fast-tracked into the semis of the 59th Miss World pageant on December 12.
Yesterday 17 out of the 112 contestants performed in front of orphaned and vulnerable children from Alexandra township.