MANILA, Philippines – Laura Lehmann's journey in the Miss World pageant was widely followed by athletes, particularly those from the Ateneo de Manila University who became friends with the beauty queen during her stint as a UAAP courtside reporter.
Thus, it was no surprise to see Ateneo stars like Kiefer Ravena and Alyssa Valdez exhorting their own fans to support "Lau." Her own beau, Von Pessumal, also campaigned heavily on social media.
Lehmann, who made it to the Top 40 but unfortunately missed the Top 15, was very appreciative of their support, even as she admitted that it felt strange for the shoe to be on the other foot.
"You know, I felt that it's weird," Lehmann told ABS-CBN News. "Usually, I'm the one tweeting about them, or I'm the one hosting. So this time, it was the other way around."
She beams, and then exclaims: "I felt like the player!"
Yet Lehmann also noted that her experience in the Miss World pageant gave her a chance to do something that her friends have been doing in their capacity as athletes – that is, to represent the Philippines.
True, she exchanged a jersey for an evening gown, and kicks for high heels, but Lehmann felt the same honor and pride that Pessumal, Valdez, and Ravena do whenever they don the national colors.
"I told Ly (Valdez), 'Finally, I'm also representing the Philippines,' because usually it's just Von, Kiefer, and Ly," said Lehmann, herself a former athlete who played softball and football, among other sports.
"Tapos, ako magt-tweet (about them). Now, it's the other way around, so it was a nice experience," she added.
Lehmann was also grateful for the support that she received from the sports community, who not only followed her journey with baited breath but also sent her words of comfort after she failed to make the Top 15 in last week's pageant.
"Everyone's been really positive and really supportive, especially everyone in the sports community," she said. "Maybe that's because this is where I started. This is really my home."
Indeed, among the first things that Lehmann when she returned to the Philippines was to take in a basketball game. She and Pessumal watched the Blue Eagles come away with a heart-stopping 88-84 overtime victory over Far Eastern University on Wednesday, propelling them to the UAAP Season 80 Finals.
"It was really nice," she said. "I don't usually get to watch games, because usually I'm reporting or hosting for games. So it was nice that Von and I kind of got relaxing time."
"He wasn't playing, either, so we were just like normal people, normal spectators," she added. "We were cheering, we felt the nerves. It was just really nice, very relaxing."
Even though the Miss World pageant is done, Lehmann will continue with her duties as Miss World Philippines. She will also continue to host events and shows, but also revealed that she is set to do a project with Regal Films as she transitions into movies.