Win­ner has beauty and brains

Central Leader - - NEWS -

Beauty plus brains is a win­ning for­mula for Elena Turner.

The 44-year-old math­e­mat­ics teacher charmed judges with her daz­zling smile and im­pres­sive in­tel­lect to be crowned Mrs New Zea­land this month.

The pageant is a part of the Mrs In­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions which are open to mar­ried women be­tween the ages of 21 and 56.

With no mod­el­ling or pageant ex­pe­ri­ence Mrs Turner was di­vided on the idea of en­ter­ing the com­pe­ti­tion when her daugh­ter Ka­trina sug­gested it.

‘‘I had never re­ally thought about it be­fore. I’m a maths teacher, we don’t walk the stage.’’

The Ko­hi­marama res­i­dent de­cided to take the plunge and en­ter, but the first hur­dle was shop­ping for a fig­ure­hug­ging evening gown.

‘‘It is a very big part of the event. It is worth 25 per cent of the points,’’ she says.

‘‘I went shop­ping and ev­ery­thing I tried on I didn’t like. I felt very dis­ap­pointed in the way I looked. Then I re­alised I had to walk in swimwear and that was a shock, but I didn’t quit.’’

In­stead, the mother of two started a strict ex­er­cise and diet regime. In the eight weeks lead­ing up to the com­pe­ti­tion she dropped two dress sizes from a 14 to a 10.

‘‘I was shin­ing on stage. Peo­ple said that to me and I felt like that – just so amaz­ing.’’

Mrs Turner topped seven other fi­nal­ists to take the ti­tle of Mrs New Zea­land. Her tri­umph came as shock to her col­leagues and stu­dents at Western Springs Col­lege – she hadn’t told any­one about en­ter­ing.

‘‘When I won I brought my crown to school and went straight to the prin­ci­pal’s of­fice to show him. And when I told my stu­dents they were ab­so­lutely ex­cited, they were all clap­ping.’’

Mrs Turner aims to use her new ti­tle for good. She plans to visit schools as a mo­ti­va­tional speaker. ‘‘I want to tell everybody it is good to be ed­u­cated and you can be beau­ti­ful.’’

The Rus­sian born beauty can cer­tainly walk the talk – she gained a bach­e­lors de­gree in sci­ence and a di­ploma in fi­nance while liv­ing in Moscow.

When she moved to New Zea­land five years ago she un­der­took a di­ploma in teach­ing at the Univer­sity of Auck­land.

‘‘I like teach­ing math­e­mat­ics. It’s a very de­mand­ing sub­ject. But when I see their eyes and they be­come in­ter­ested in what I am teach­ing, that is the best feel­ing.’’

Mrs Turner’s win will see her jet­ting to Florida, United States, to com­pete in Mrs In­ter­na­tional in 2014.

Photo: DANIELLE STREET

Beauty queen: Math­e­mat­ics teacher Elena Turner wants to use her Mrs New Zea­land pro­file to talk to stu­dents about the power of ed­u­ca­tion.

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