She might be small but she was able to beat the 19 finalists with her big personality and megawatt smile.

Miss Earth 2016 winner, Manuela, was crowned Miss Universe Singapore despite being one of the smaller girls in the competition. The petite beauty, who stands at 1.64m, will be representing Singapore at the Miss Universe Pageant held in Las Vegas in November.

She walked home with $10,000 in cash as well as prizes worth $45,000 including treatment and services from Beaute Hub and Orchard Scotts Dental. The Lasalle College of the Art graduate also bagged subsidiary titles like the Beaute Hub Miss Aspirational, Skinceuticals Miss Beautiful Skin and Cosmoprof Miss Alluring.

Held at the West Ballroom of Resorts World Sentosa Convention Centre, some 450 people showed up at the resplendent affair.

The glittering beauty contest kicked off with an opening speech by Nuraliza Osman, national director of Miss Universe Singapore Organisation B.V. and winner of the 2002 title.

The 20 hopefuls made their first appearance of the night in the Distinctively Singaporean Show opener where they paraded and sashayed in sartorial pieces designed by local designers with details representative of the different ethnicities in Singapore.

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Photo: The Straits Times

Subsequently, the 20 girls vying for the crown showed off their toned bodies in cheerful bikinis paired with sarongs in the swimsuit segment. The group of 20 hopefuls were then whittled down to 10.

Photo: The New Paper

The 10 remaining candidates pulled out all the stops to impress the judges. After much deliberation, 5 girls were chosen to move on to the gruelling question and answer segment.

The top five contestants, Manuela Bruntraeger, Rudhira Ramathas, Embiliany Neggal Intong, Shonalie Raha and Amanda Tan, had to answer the same question: What was their greatest personal achievement and how did it prepare them to be Miss Universe Singapore?

In the end, crowd favourite, Manuela Bruntraeger,won the judges over with her stage presence and her confidence. The first runner-up is 26-year-old pricing analyst, Rudhira Ramathas, while 18-year-old Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts student, Embibiany Neggal Intong, emerged as the second runner-up.

Manuela, whose father is German and mother, a Singaporean of Portuguese descent, received the crown from the reigning Miss Universe Singapore, Cheryl Chou. When asked about the biggest challenges that she faced in the competition, Manuela had this to say, “As I am one of the more petite girls, I have heard the words ‘short,small,tiny’ along the way. But now, knowing all my hard work has paid off, I have learnt that it is okay to be fun-sized, and there is never a bad size”.

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