Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Five Miss Universe finalists hit by bug

The finalists were all smiles yesterday.  Photo / Hagen Hopkins
The finalists were all smiles yesterday. Photo / Hagen Hopkins

Organisers of tonight's Miss Universe New Zealand final were deeply concerned this week when half the contestants were struck down with a stomach bug.

Five of the 10 finalists took ill on Thursday while doing promotional work for the pageant in Wellington.

"It was a bit worrying having so many of the contestants fall sick at the same time so close to the finale," said the event's director, Val Lott. "Fortunately they are a pretty tough bunch and it was a case of the show must go on."

The girls were in luck when judge, Wayne Morris, a doctor from Dunedin, arrived at the pageant base at the Museum Art Hotel and diagnosed a stomach virus. "Wayne ended up doing house calls, going around the girls' rooms and handing out prescriptions," Lott explained. "I played nurse and dispensed medication and fluids.

"It was fortunate one of our judges is a doctor but I don't think he was expecting to be so busy. Thank goodness it turned out to be a 24-hour bug the girls had."

One of the judges, May Davis, was also confined to bed after she tripped on a pothole and sprained her ankle. Davis even conducted interviews with contestants from her hotel sick bed.

"May's left leg was raised up and we set up a row of seats in her room for the girls," Lott said. "It was the most unusual interview session I have seen in my six years at the pageant."

Tonight's finale is at Wellington's Amora Hotel. The final 10 from around New Zealand will battle for a place in the Miss Universe final in December.

- Herald on Sunday

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