The idea for the Guinness book of records belongs to Sir Hugh Beaver, Chairman of the Guinness Brewery. The book first came out sixty years ago on 27 August 1955 and was an instant bestseller in Great Britain. After the Bible, the Koran and Mao Tse-Tung’s “Little Red Book”, the Guinness Book of Records is among the most published copyright books to this day. The book is a collection of top human achievements but also of records connected with nature. The Guinness Book of Records first came out in Bulgarian in 1999; before that the Russian-language version was on sale in the country. The book features quite a few Bulgarian names, many in the Sports category. The first Bulgarian record that comes to mind is the world high jump record. It belongs to jumper Stefka Kostadinova and has remained unchallenged 28 whole years. On 30 August 1987 at the World Championship in Athletics in Rome she cleared 209 cms. The Plovdiv-born athlete also has a title from the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, five outdoor world titles and as many indoor titles.
And one more legendary athlete – Yordanka Donkova. In 1988 she clockled 12.21 minutes in the 100 meter hurdles; this too is a record that has not been broken to this day.
The girls from the Bulgarian rhythmic gymnastics teams are also in the Guinness book of records - Maria Gigova and Maria Petrova as the only three-time world champions. There are another seven names of Bulgarian athletes plus one single-handed seafaring circumnavigator.
Legendary yachtsman Georgi Georgiev is the first Bulgarian seafarer to have sailed around the world. He started out from Havana on board his sailing yacht Cor Caroli on 20 December 1976 and cast anchor, again in Havana on 20 December 1977. What makes him unique is that he is the only seafarer in the world to have crossed the region of tropical depressions in the Pacific, close to the islands of Fiji during storm season. Until then this was thought to be impossible for any human or sailing boat. Yet captain Georgiev did so without ever resorting to outside assistance even though at times, he needed it, without ever sending a distress signal throughout the 23,018 nautical miles his boat sailed. And all that time his only company was a kitten. Yachtsman No.1 of Bulgaria of all time was included in the Guinness book of records edition of 1981-1982. His achievement has remained unique to this day.
But it is in circus art that the greatest number of Bulgarian names is to be found. The Kehayov brothers company – the legendary Bulgarian circus artists for generations – went from record to record. They were included in the Guinness book of records in 1978 with their unique 7-man flying somersault. Despina Kehayova swiveled 75 hoops at the same time and that too is a world record. The youngest of the Kehayovs, 5-year old Maximus Garcia was included in the book of records as the youngest person to have ridden a motorcycle at close to 70 kms. per hour in the so-called Globe of Death.
There is no way we could make mention of all Bulgarians whose names have gone down in the Guinness Book of Records. Still we must mention chess player Kiril Georgiev who played versus 360 rivals, winning 280 of the matches, scoring 74 draws and losing only six games. Guitar player Georgi Georgiev played the guitar for 49 hours, breaking the record set by another Bulgarian – Bisser Rachev. 2,014 cocktails shot bartender Pencho Penchev right up to the top. He already had four other records included in the latest book of records published in September last year. Pencho Penchev who is from Varna says he has no intention of stopping, as long as there will be someone to drink them all.
In 2005 11,961 people danced the horo (chain dance) in the centre of Sofia, setting a record, though one year later, a round dance that was bigger was organized in a small town in Romania. But Bulgaria was the first country with a bagpipe playing record. On 16 May 2012, in hall No. 1 of the National Palace of Culture 333 bagpipes from the Rhodopes played to an audience that included Guinness book of records emissaries.
But there is one more Bulgarian record that is not individual, in the Religion category – the statue of the Holy mother of God with infant in Haskovo that is thought to be the world’s tallest sculpture of the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the town – 32 meters.
English version: Milena Daynova