Australia Why the Guinness Book of World Records still keeps kids off devices
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As children become more immersed in the digital world of iPads and other electronic devices, there's one book that can still get them turning pages.
The Guinness World Records has released its 2022 edition, the 67th book since the records first started in 1955.
Published annually in more than 100 countries and over 25 languages, Guinness World Records endures as a favourite of kids and adults alike because anyone anywhere can attempt one of the 53,000 records in the organisation's database.
That's the view of Pete Fairbairn, an Australian who is one of only 50 adjudicators of official Guinness World Records around the globe.
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'Kids as they’re growing up and become more conscious of the world around them, they see things in Guinness World Records which really opens their minds and broadens their horizons to what the human body and humankind are capable of,' Fairbairn said.
'Every single one of us can have a crack at something in the Guinness World Records database and become the best in the world at it.
'That’s at the core of the enduring love of the World Records.'
Mr Fairbairn has travelled the world in his role as an adjudicator, though the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic means he has done a lot more online 'digital adjudications' of record attempts in the past 18 months.
His favourite Australian record in the new edition was achieved by Anthony Kelly, an Armidale, NSW resident who holds more than 50 other Guinness World Records.
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'I've adjudicated a few of Anthony's attempts over the journey,' Mr Fairbairn said. 'He’s a ninja. He hit 11 targets with a blowgun in a minute while blindfolded.
Another Australian favourite is Graeme Denton aka Marty McBubble, who created the world’s tallest freestanding soap bubble measuring 10.750m in Adelaide in September 2020.
Other notable Australian records in the new edition include Australian Ninja reality star Olivia Vivian, who on January 8 this year set the record for farthest distance across monkey bars in one minute when she swung for a distance of 54.50m in Perth.
Olympic hurdles champion Sally Pearson still holds the fastest 100m egg-and-spoon race, which she set in Sydney in 2013 by running the distance in 16.59 seconds.
Australian schoolgirl Roxanne Downs holds the record for youngest magazine editor, after she became editor of It GiRL magazine in 2017 while aged eight. She now juggles schoolwork with editorial work and has seen It GiRL's circulation rise under her editorship.
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The Brisbane resident said the most memorable records he has adjudicated include the world's longest banana split record of 8.04km, set in Innisfail, north Queensland in March 2017.
'One of the reasons I’ll never forget it was because it was about 45 degrees and the World Records adjudicator uniform has a nice thick blazer, business shirt and tie… I went through about four shirt changes because I was soaking.'
In May 2018 he travelled to a regional part of the Philippines to supervise a local community's attempt at the world's largest Zumba class.
'There were over 20,000 people and buses had come from all over the region, young, old, kids, the army,' Mr Fairbairn recalls.
'And then there was this torrential downpour. It just turned into a huge mudpile. I left my nice RM Williams boots there, they didn’t make it back, they were destroyed.'
Mr Fairbairn said like many people he'd been a fan of the famous records book since he was a child, with his family picking up copies of the book at garage sales 'since before I was born'.
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The Guinness Book of Records were created in 1954 when brothers Norris and Ross McWhirter were commissioned to create the first book by the boss of Guinness Breweries, Sir Hugh Beaver.
The idea for the book had come to Beaver while he was on a game shoot. He'd missed a shot and become involved in an argument over whether the golden plover or red grouse was the fastest game bird in Europe.
Unable to find a reference book to settle the argument, the idea for the Guinness Book of Records was born.
Importantly, anyone can attempt one of the world records without the need of an adjudicator by filming their feat and sending it to the London headquarters of the concept.
'The records celebrate the truest, most phenomenal physical feats but also more fun and creative attempts that don’t discriminate against anybody, regardless of age, location, gender,' he said.
'You can be in the middle of the Australian Outback and as long you have the guidelines for the record, you can attempt it and send it off to be accepted.
'It’s a really compelling reason as to why it has stood the test of time.'
Guinness Book of World Records is on sale now.
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