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1998 Miss South Pacific contestant Letila Mitchell anticipates a tough competition in this year's contest in Suva.

Former Miss Fiji Letila Mitchell believes Fiji has taken the Miss South Pacific Pageant to another platform in hosting the regional event over a period of a week.

Mitchell who represented Fiji to the 1998 Miss South Pacific Pageant in Auckland, New Zealand said Fiji had set a new benchmark for the festival.

Unlike before when the event was held over three days it was always quiet stressful to the contestant and also exclusive so the community didnt get much of a chance to access them, Mitchell told Fijilive.

Fiji has set a trend for the South Pacific pageant and to keep the event at the top of the platform I believe that other countries should be given a chance to host, she said.

Mitchell who won the first runner-up to Samoa winner Cherie Robinson said representing Fiji inn 1998 was an eye opener.

At first I thought it was about beauty but later I knew that it was about Pacific women being cultural ambassadors of their country. It was very encouraging and also a great experience for me, she added.

While there is a lot of ground support for 2009 Miss Fiji Mere Nailatikau, Mitchell said the lack of resources was a hurdle to leap in her time.

There was not much resources and funds allocated for me but I was fortunate to have the support of my family and also the Fijian and Rotuman community in New Zealand.

I was only given three weeks to prepare and since Fiji didnt enter often, my coordinators and I had no experience and knowledge of the requirements so we went in quiet blindly. Luckily I was a dancer and I really pulled through in the talent show and also in the public speaking so I provided a lot of challenge to the rest of the contestants.

Mitchell, then 23, was crowned Miss Hibiscus in 1998 and qualified to represent Fiji after being selected ahead of that years Miss Bula, Miss Sugar and Miss Coral Coast during a run through cocktail.

There were only four of us and the selection was done after a series of interviews, talent shows and public and private judging. I was excited after I was crowned Miss Fiji and even though it was challenge I didnt regret the opportunity of representing Fiji.

Mitchell wished this years Miss Fiji Mere Nailatikau and was hopeful that Fiji would create history by winning the pageant while hosting it for the first time.

The 2009 Miss South Pacific Pageant will be held at Suvas Albert Park from November 21 28.

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