Alena Spodynyuk, who has won the national Miss Ukraine Universe 2016 contest, will represent Ukraine at the international Miss Universe 2016beauty pageant. She beat other contenders from around the country at the 10th national Miss Ukraine Universe contest, which was held on June 29 at the luxurious five-star Fairmont Grand Hotel Kyiv.

The date and the location of this year’s Miss Universe contest are yet to be announced – some countries have yet to hold their national selection contests.

However, Spodynyuk has already started to prepare for the Miss Universe.

“I know what I need to work on, and what needs to be improved,” she said in an interview with the Kyiv Post.

The 18-year -old Spodynyuk, who hails from Sevastopol, Crimea and who currently lives in Kyiv, hopes to be the first Ukrainian to win Miss Universe. She beat 14 rivals at the beauty contest’s national final, and is the youngest Miss Ukraine Universe in its ten-year-history.

Spodynyuk says she was inspired to participate in the beauty contest by Jamala, the Ukrainian jazz singer of Crimean Tatar origin who won the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 in Sweden in May.

“Iwill try to do everything like Jamala did to bring victory to Ukraine,” Spodynyuk says.

Miss Universe is the most popular international beauty contest in the world. It was founded in 1952 in the United States and now is held in more than 190 countries. Its audience reaches more than half a billion people annually.

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U.S. businessman and Republican Party presumptive presidential candidate Donald Trump owned the Miss Universe pageant from 1996 to 2015. But since last September, the international company WME | IMG, which specializes in media production and distribution, has owned the contest.

The Miss Universe Organization licenses local organizations to select a Miss Universe contestant for their country.

Spodynyuk says she has never taken part in beauty contests before– for the past five years she has been a professional handball player. She is currently preparing to enter the National University of Culture and Arts in Kyiv, and dreams of becoming a journalist.

It took her two months to prepare for the Miss Ukraine Universebeauty contest,and she had to overcome illness during the final, having to take to the stage despite having a temperature.

“The hardest part of the contest for me was theevening dress round, when the top five were selected at the end,” Spodynyuk recalls.

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