When Adline Castelino left for Florida to compete at the Miss Universe 2020 pageant, the devastating Covid-19 second wave had already begun in India. The 22-year-old Miss Diva winner herself recovered from coronavirus just in time to fly out to participate in the international pageant. She recovered just one week before she was scheduled to leave, and had to deal with the after-effects while performing at the pageant.
“It was a really close call. I had been dreaming about Miss Universe for three years of my life. I never thought that when I had to leave something like this would happen. At that moment, it was very challenging, I never thought that I could make it. There’s so much exhaustion after recovering from Covid, and there’s so much work to do. I really don’t know how I made it. But my team really helped me get everything together. I remember being at the Miss Universe pageant and having to drink a lot of fluids to keep the exhaustion at bay and be present with my mind, body and soul,” she says.
Her personal battle with the disease, as well as how it affected her homeland sort of defined Adline’s Miss Universe journey, which ended with her securing the third runner-up spot. “It’s definitely once in a lifetime experience. And it brought a lot of humility in my journey to know that anything can happen at any time. You always have to be ready and willing to go the beyond what’s happening to you,” she says.
“When I left, the country was suffering so much, and it’s still is, at the moment. I had only one thing in my mind, that I have to carry the name of the country and give them some hope and positivity during this time. Because it’s been a real struggle to reach there in the first place. When I reached there everybody was like, I’m so sorry, this is happening to India. There was a lot of sympathy going around. For me to embody that strength over there was very important, to show how strong we are in India,” she adds.
On May 16, 2021, Adline was placed as the 3rd runner-up at the Miss Universe pageant. This was India’s highest placement in Miss Universe since Lara Dutta won the title in 2000, and broke the 20-year drought of India’s non placement in the Top 5, which was previously achieved by Celina Jaitley, who was the 4th runner-up in 2001. After all the struggles she went through to reach the pageant and compete, Adline is happy with the position she secured.
“I have no regrets on not winning the crown. It’s a miracle that despite whatever was happening in the country, there was a lockdown, we were able to travel all the way to America. A lot of people don’t really know the backstory and what happened in the pageant journey. And I don’t blame people because all they see is the finale. So I feel, even after facing a lot of obstacles my team and I were able to deliver so much and the main objective was to present a very strong image of India, internationally. At the end of the day, they can only be one winner. I don’t regret anything at all. I’ve met some of the strongest women that have done incredible work in their countries. And that has inspired me that you don’t really require a crown to do the work that you do,” Adline insists.