Linford Christie's niece is first black Miss England
The first black Miss England said today she wept with joy when she won the contest, and spoke of her hope that she will act as a role model for young people.
Rachel Christie, 20, the athlete niece of Olympic 100 metres gold medallist Linford Christie, said it felt like a "dream" when she was announced winner of the contest last night, beating more than 50 other finalists.
"It means the world; obviously anyone would say that, but it really does mean so much to me," she said.
"One of my reasons for doing Miss England in the first place was because I wanted to show people, the younger generation especially - I have younger brothers and sisters - I wanted to show them that you can do something positive with your life and, whoever you are, you can be who you want and whatever you want to be if you just put your mind to it and have ambition and determination."
Ms Christie, who lives with her mother, Diana, in a council flat in West Kensington, along with two brothers and one sister, said her Uncle Linford was an "inspiration".
She said it was her ambition to compete in the 2012 Olympics.
Ms Christie, who specialises in the heptathlon event, has won athletics medals at major UK competitions, such as the Triple A and South of England Championships, and trains at the stadium in Hammersmith, west London, which is named after Linford.
She said she had not yet spoken to her uncle about her victory last night as her mobile phone battery had gone dead.
But she said: "He has been an inspiration to me."
Ms Christie, whose father, Russell, died when she was eight years old, said her mother, Diana, had been there to greet her as she was crowned Miss England.
She said her mother, a personal trainer who is currently unemployed, was "really, really happy" about her victory.
She said: "I have always been strong and my mum made me a strong person."
Ms Christie denied that the competition, which was picketed by protesters last night, was sexist.
She said: "I think people stereotype Miss England. It is not just about your looks at all.
"It is not just a modelling competition.
"It is about your personality, it is about you as a person and everything about you."
She added that she was having difficulty believing that she had won the contest.
Ms Christie, who was competing as Miss London City, was chosen by a panel of judges including model Caprice.
She said she had been "shocked" when she won the competition.
"I am just shocked, I cannot believe that I am sitting here as Miss England 2009, it is overwhelming."
She added that she was looking forward to representing England in the next Miss World final due to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa in December.