If you thought the title for the world’s longest female legs belonged to a supermodel, think again, because the Guinness World Record holder for the longest stems belongs to a former basketball player named Svetlana Pankratova.
According to a recent profile in the Falls Church News-Press, 41-year-old Pankratova has the longest female legs in the world, measuring 4 feet 4 inches of her 6-foot 5-inch frame. Pankratova is a former Russian women’s basketball player who now is the assistant coach at George Mason High in Falls Church, Va.
Pankratova’s quest to get recognized as the female with the world’s longest legs began in 2002, when a friend showed her an article about a British woman who held the record. That’s when Pankratova sought out Guinness officials to verify the claim, though she believed at the time it was a “silly idea.”
“It’s not like I was always on top of it,” Pankratova told the Falls Church News-Press. “I had other things to do and just kind of let it go.”
Pankratova said it took six years, and plenty of emails, calls and paperwork, while Guinness assessed the record. But finally, in 2008, Pankratova was formally named the women with the longest legs and was included in the 2009 Guinness Book of World Records.
For Pankratova, the title was long overdue, as she said she was often bullied in high school for her height.
“It wasn’t easy because kids do tease you,” Pankratova said. “They tease whenever something is – I wouldn’t say not normal – but when something is different. So I would get teased a lot for being tall.”
According to the Volgograd, for the Russian-native finding clothes was a difficult task growing up, but never did she realize that she could possibly have the longest legs.
“I never thought about it when I was growing up,” Pankratova said. “I just never paid attention to my legs.”
Nowadays, Pankratova works as the assistant coach for the George Mason Mustangs, one of Virginia’s top girls’ basketball programs. The gig was perfect for Pankratova, who was a former member of the Russian national team and Virginia Commonwealth, from which she graduated in 1997, basketball teams. Though her career as an athlete ended in 2000 after playing ball in Portugal, Israel and Spain, Pankratova holds the record for the most blocked shots at 176 and the most blocked shots in a season, at 75 for VCU.
Pankratova said coaching the girls’ team at George Mason has filled the void for her when it comes to sports. Not to mention, she has helped lead the team to several rounds of semifinals for the state playoffs over the years.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity for me to work with them,” Pankratova told the newspaper of her team. “Because I stopped playing basketball … so it was great to get back to basketball and I really do enjoy it and it brings all the nice memories back and I just enjoy giving them what I know to help them any way I can.”
She is married to Jack Gosnell, whom she met while he was working as the U.S. General Counsel in St. Petersburg, during her basketball years. Pankratova also travels for press tours as the woman with the longest legs for Guinness, most famously to London for the launch of the 2009 book edition along with the world’s smallest man, He Pingping of China, the Washington Post reported.