Saturday 22 November 2014

What do a German magician, an 87-year-old Brazilian footballer and Girls Aloud have in common?

Why, The Guinness Book of World Records, says, Willie Dillon

Published 01/10/2007 | 00:00

Thomas Vogel's world record wasn't set on a running track. But it's one which many men would consider to be up there with the finest achievements of Carl Lewis or Michael Johnson. In their sweetest daydreams, they might even regard themselves as potential contenders.

Nobody on earth unhooks bras faster than he can.

Using just one hand, the German magician unfastened the bras of 56 women in one minute on a Cologne TV show last year. He beat the previous record -- held by Australian Rick Canzler -- by 24. It's easily among the oddest entries in the latest Guinness World Records Book.

Bra-opening may never become an officially-recognised sport, which is a pity as it's one in which even the laziest man could expect to cope with the rigours of a daily training regime.

The latest Guinness Book is a treasure trove of startling accomplishment, unlikely feats and lots of throwaway facts and figures. Girls Aloud -- the group featuring Derry singer Nadine Coyle -- get star billing for clocking up 17 consecutive UK Top Ten hits. Madonna has had the most UK number one albums -- nine. Robbie Williams and David Bowie have had eight apiece.

Top of the Irish entries is accordion player Liam O'Connor. He is credited with having the world's fastest fingers after performing the tune Tico Tico at breakneck speed on 2FM's Rick O'Shea Show last November. His playing was measured at an astonishing 11.67 notes a second. "There were five adjudicators in front of me," says the West Cork-born musician. "I had to play it as fast as I could without losing the formation of the tune."

Liam used to play in Lord Of The Dance with Michael Flatley, a former holder of the title of world's fastest dancer. The remarkable thing about his accordion record is that he did it all with just one hand. "When Flatley was doing it, he was able to use two legs."

The world's fastest tap dancer is Clareman James Devine, who achieved 38 taps per second in a Sydney recording studio in 1998. He broke the record previously held by Flatley. But the latter retains, possibly, an even more impressive title -- the world's highest paid dancer.

At the peak of his Lord Of The Dance show success, Flatley was earning approximately €1.2 million a week. This included profits from ticket, video and merchandise sales.

Cavan man Vincent Pilkington's world record has survived for so long that he has lost his place in this year's book. For nearly 30 years, he has been the world's fastest turkey plucker.

Vincent, now 58, plucked a turkey in 90 seconds on RTE's Irish language programme Trom Agus Eadrom in 1980. In doing so, he knocked an incredible one minute and 14 seconds off his own existing world record.

"I was just lucky on the night and had a good bird, as they say," he laughs. But his achievement has nothing on the many outlandish and bizarre records feted this year. The largest number of people to brush their teeth simultaneously at a single venue was 13,380 in San Salvador in November 2005. The most people wearing Groucho Marx glasses, nose and moustache in one place at the same time was 1,463 in Maine, USA, in July 2006. Canadian Ana Yang managed to fit 26 people inside a soap bubble in Beijing in December 2006.

The oldest documented male stripper is Bernie Barker, from Florida, who began his career at the age of 60 as part of his recovery from prostate cancer. He continued stripping until his death last March aged 67. The world's current oldest footballer is Brazilian Tercio Mariano de Rezende, a right winger with his local club. He is 87.

Peter Dowdeswell's 1975 record of drinking two pints of beer in 2.3 seconds still hasn't been surpassed. The Northamptonshire man holds numerous eating and drinking records. Still intact is his 1988 record when it took him three seconds to drink a pint of beer upside down.

American Cody Warden holds the world record for a person kicking their own head. Last November, he kicked himself in the forehead 77 times in a minute -- a whopping 20 kicks more than the previous best figure. But for the weirdest record, it's hard to beat Indian yoga instructor GP Vijayakumar, whose speciality is fish snorting.

This involves sucking a fish up through the back of the mouth and ejecting it from a nostril. Before graduating to fish, he honed his skills by practicing with peas.

In July 2005, he snorted eight fish in a minute. He also holds the record for the one-hour event -- 509.

His singular achievement is unlikely ever to be outdone.

The question is: who'd want to?

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