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South African clinches runner-up title in maiden Miss Wheelchair World

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South African runway model Lebohang Monyatsi came second place in the first-ever Miss Wheelchair World held in the Polish capital Warsaw.

She lost the crown to the 23-year-old student from Belarus, Aleksandra Chichikova, who made history among the 24 contestants from 19 countries as the world’s first beauty queen in a wheelchair.

Lebohang Monyatsi is Africa’s first runway model in a wheelchair; and one of the two contestants from Africa who participated in the pageant.

The international event seeks to change the attitude of people towards physically challenged women who are in wheelchairs, event organizers The Only One Foundation – based in Poland – said in a statement.

“Our purpose is to show the world that there are beautiful women in wheelchairs in countries all over the world and to remind you that the wheelchair is not a constraint but an addition to your personality,” they said.

“Every single woman in a wheelchair has the right to be whoever she wants and to feel beautiful,” the organizers added.

Among the finalists were contestants from Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Guatemala, India, Italy, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and the U.S.A.

It took two months to select the 24 finalists who were announced in August. They underwent preparatory workshops including rehearsals, photo sessions, conferences and visits since September 29 before the final on October 7, the organizers said.

Poland has been hosting its national Miss Wheelchair pageant since 2013 and The Only One Foundation calls on other countries to join them in hosting national Miss Wheelchair pageants.

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