Family back in down under

SYDNEY: The family of Australia’s newly-crowned Miss Universe, model Jennifer Hawkins, said Wednesday they could not believe her success in Ecuador’s capital and were excited for her. Some 1.5 billion people in 150 countries watched the Miss Universe pageant, owned by New York billionaire Donald Trump. Hawkins, 20, a former rugby league team cheerleader, is Australia’s first winner in the competition since 1972. Her mother Gail Hawkins was waiting at the family’s Newcastle home for news of the results, and said she was excited for her daughter. “I can’t believe it, I just cannot believe it,” she said. “I just wish I was there to give her a big cuddle. It’s really hard to believe. I wonder if it’s sunk in with her yet. I don’t think she realises the attention she has gotten here. Our contact has been limited I have a little list of things I want to ask her. I can’t wait to see her and talk about it. We’re all so proud and so excited for her.”

Hawkins said her daughter had enjoyed a wonderful experience in the competition, triumphing over 79 other entrants and 14 semi-finalists to take the title. But she said the close-knit family, including Jennifer’s two older brothers and a sister, would miss her as she would move to the United States. “It’s a wonderful thing for her. She has done so much more than we ever thought she would,” she said. “But she now has to go to America for a year so I have mixed emotions about that.” Gail Hawkins said the family would be getting together for its first view of the final on television on Friday night, as Miss Hawkins flew home. “She’s a happy, easy-going type of girl who loves a laugh and always has time for people,” she said. “She’s a natural, very Australian type of girl. She’s very well liked.” — AFP