Most Olympic Games Attended: Harry Nelson sets world record (VIDEO) LONDON, UK -- Harry Nelson, 90, a former administrator at the University of Southern California has attended nearly every Summer Olympics since 1932; his latest journey to London marked his 18th Olympics
and a new world record for the Most Summer Olympic Games Attended,
according to the World Record Academy: www.worldrecordacademy.com/.
Photo: Harry Nelson has set the world record for the Most Summer Olympic Games Attended.
The Guinness world record for the Most Summer Olympic Games attended was set by Harry Nelson.
Guinness World Records also recognized the world record for the most gold medals won by a woman: nine, by Larisa Latynina (USSR/Ukraine) who won four in 1956, three in 1960 and two in 1964 for gymnastics.
For eight decades, Harry Nelson has been chasing his own kind of Olympic dream: attending the Summer Olympics.
Rather, the former administrator at the University of Southern California said his commitment is about the thrill of meeting new people, experiencing a new environment and -- in his own words -- exploring his "nosiness."
"I'm nosy and want to see the world as much as possible," he said in a phone interview.
"You get to see different parts of the world that are different from here, and you just meet all kinds of people."
Nelson's journey began when he was 10 years old after his mother managed to score four tickets to the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
The experience, Nelson said, colored his experience of the Games during a difficult period when his family fought to pay the bills.
"It was just great entertainment for us at that particular time," Nelson recalled. "We didn't have any money because that was the [Great] Depression. My father had lost his job and we spent our time selling eggs from door-to-door. It was tough times."
Since then, the Pepperdine alumnus has managed to attend 17 games total, traveling around the globe to watch the world's premiere athletes compete at one of the most televised events in the country.
The long-time Olympic fan attended the 1948 Games in London, barely scraping enough money to finance the trip and traveling by ship for five days to watch the Games.
Nelson said he had to sell his Chevrolet for $600 to his uncle to make it to the Games, where he watched the Track and Field events -- his athletic activity in high school.
The Olympics have since changed, Nelson said, and returning to London 64 years later means he has had to deal with more expensive event tickets and an increasingly inconvenient plane flight.
"I always look forward to going, but … flying is no fun anymore," he said.
"Traveling is just not the same. It's a big hassle, and, of course, the continent is getting more crowded. It's a different world than the one I grew up in."
Still, Nelson has sought to include his family in his Olympics hobby. He celebrated a belated honeymoon with his wife, Dee, at the 1956 Melbourne Games, and brought his children to the 1972 Munich Games and 1976 Montreal Games.
Though Harry Nelson has proven himself as a committed fan of the Summer Olympics, he said he is not sure what the future will hold.
The escalating costs of an Olympic ticket, coupled with his rising age, may make it difficult for him to attend future Games, including the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he said.
"My problem is, of course, that I've been retired almost 30 years now and everything goes up except my salary," he said. "It's getting more and more difficult, but we're still able to save things."
Nelson has also self-published a book about his experiences, titled "Following the Flame: A 76-Year Olympic Journey," that chronicles his adventures with the numerous Olympic games.
While Nelson said he does not know what will happen in 2016, he remains optimistic about his future travels.
"It's my hobby, and as long as we can do it, we will," he said.