Svetlana fell in love for the first time when she was a seventh-grader. She liked the boy named Vladimir and hoped to dance with him at a school party. The only problem was that Svetlana was a lot taller than Vladimir. She was the tallest girl at school.
“I don’t dance with stringbeans,” Vladimir replied to Svetlana’s invitation to dance. All the boys around burst into laughter. Svetlana blushed and ran away holding her tears.
Svetlana had been dreaming about that night. She practiced her steps at home in front of a mirror, but one single phrase ruined her fairytale in an instant. Sveta came home crying that night. “Why do I have such huge legs, mother? I am so ugly!” she cried. The girl’s mother tried to calm her daughter down: “This is not true. Silly boys don’t understand yet that you are closer to the sun than they are.”
Now Svetlana realizes that she is different. Svetlana Pankratova, a resident of Volgograd, made an entry into the Guinness Book of Records as the owner of world’s longest legs – 1 meter 32 centimeters.
The child was born absolutely normal, like all other baby girls. She was born 51 cm tall and weighed 3,500 kilos. However, Svetlana was much taller than all other girls already in the kindergarten. The difference in height became striking when she went to school.
Svetlana was an absolutely healthy child - she was only growing very fast. To be more precise, it was her legs that were growing. Her parents started thinking that their daughter became a victim of genetic mutations. Medics found nothing suspicious. They only said that the girl was following her father’s path of development – the man was 190 centimeters in height.
It was very difficult to find nice clothes for schoolchildren in Russian stores during the era of deficit in the 1980s. Needless to say that it was practically impossible to find anything for a tall girl. “It was very hard to buy my daughter stockings or plain trousers in the city back in those years. We virtually had to make her clothes ourselves,” Svetlana’s mother said.
“Of course I had complexes about my height at school. I had very good friends, but there were those who perceived me as a freak. I had to fight on several occasions, but they were not big fights anyway,” Svetlana recollects.
Svetlana’s mother was a physical training teacher at school, that is why Svetlana spent much of her childhood in a gym. She went in for swimming at age 6 and joined the basketball section afterwards. Basketball coaches from St. Petersburg noticed Svetlana immediately and offered her to move to the city which she did. She spent several years there playing for a local basketball team. Afterwards she played in the USA and in Spain.
Svetlana became a different person when she became an athlete. The girls in the team were just as tall as she was, maybe a little shorter, which gave Svetlana confidence. She did not look at her feet (size 43) as something tremendously depressing anymore.
It goes without saying that long legs can cause a lot of discomfort in everyday life. A plane flight or a train or even a bus ride have always been quite problematic to her. Nevertheless, Svetlana developed a whole different outlook owing to her sports occupation.
Svetlana’s legs – 1 meter 32 centimeters (51.9 inches) - set the new world record in 2003. She beat the record of Sam Stacy, a British woman with her legs 1,26 meters long.
“I wear high heel shoes and I feel a beautiful woman,” Svetlana says.
Svetlana currently lives in Spain and works as a real estate agent.
“Many of our neighbors are eager to know if Svetlana became a millionaire. I can only say that the Guinness Book of Records simply registered an obvious fact and made my daughter famous, although the book did not make her rich,” Svetlana’s mother says.
“People react differently when they meet me for the first time. Some can be surprised, others can be thrilled, some others can be horrified. Men mostly drop their jaws and pop their eyes out. I am used to that so I pay no attention to it,” Svetlana says.
At times Svetlana recollects that boy, Vladimir, who declined her invitation to dance at school. She says that she would definitely ask him to dance again if she had such a chance now. Would Vladimir decline the invitation from the queen of world’s longest legs?