Michaela Shuttleworth, 22, (center) from Australia, is crowned Miss Scuba International 2019 at the grand finale in Kota Kinabalu. - NSTP/KHAIRULL AZRY BIDIN

KOTA KINABALU: Michaela Shuttleworth, a 22-year-old marine science student from Australia, won the Miss Scuba International (MSI) 2019 title yesterday.

She beat 22 other contestants in the grand finale.

The 175cm-tall student also won the subsidiary title of Miss Photogenic.

In the question-and-answer round, Shuttleworth was asked what qualities and attributes that Miss Scuba International should represent.

"I've never entered a pageant before and coming into this one, I was terrified. I didn't know what amazing girls I would meet because I was expecting the stereotypical pageant girls.

"But, I came in and I saw passion, excitement, joy, happiness, love and good faith for our ocean. They have given me hope that there are more people out there across the world standing up and leading their countries towards conservation.

"To me, what quality Miss Scuba International should represent is every single girl on stage," she responded, with resounding cheers from the floor.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's Anavaliza Atmadja, 28, was first-runner up, while Philippine's Flordeliz Mabao, 21, came in third and also bagged the Best in National Costume award.

Other subsidiary titles went to Lisa Van Roozendaal of Benelux (Miss Marine Conservation and Miss Congeniality) and Rouella Chan of Hong Kong (Best in Talent).

Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew and MSI founder Robert Lo were present at the event.

Earlier in her speech, Liew applauded Lo for his efforts to promote scuba diving sport and tourism in Sabah to the world.

"This is the first homegrown international pageant, which attracts many visitors to come an explore the splendour of our waters and at the same time build friendships with the people of Sabah," she said.

Liew also congratulated all finalists for their effort in helping to promote marine conservation, stressing such noteworthy cause was line with the ministry's mission to protect and conserve the natural environment for the benefit of future generations.