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   Tallest (Healthy*) Man: world record set by Leonid Stadnyk  

  PODOLYANTSY, Ukraine -- At 8 feet 5 inches (2.57m), ukrainian Leonid Stadnyk sets the world record for the Tallest (Healthy*) Man, overshadowing a Chinese man who previously held the title.

President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine, left, shaking hands with Leonid Stadnyk, 36, who is believed to be the world's tallest man at 2.57 meters, or 8 feet, 5.5 inches. (AP Photo/Mykhailo Markiv, File)
(click here to enlarge photo)

   Stadnik's growth spurt started at age 14 after a brain operation apparently stimulated his pituitary gland, which produces the human growth hormone.

   * Latest medical test showed that he has stopped growing has a good health now - making him the Tallest Healthy Man.

    All other similar records are stll due to an abnormality of the pituitary gland in the brain, causing continual growth of their body.

    He lives with his mother, Halyna, in northwestern Ukraine, taking care of the family's house and garden.
 Photo: Olena Stadnyk looks on as her son Leonid Stadnyk swings on a fence near their house in Podolyantsi. (Reuters: Gleb Garanich)
(click here to enlarge photo)

   Born to parents who were 1.73m (5ft 8in) and 1.52m (5ft) tall in a tiny village 209km (130 miles) west of the capital, Kiev, Mr Stadnyk was not unusually large as a young boy.
   Mr Stadnyk has claimed to be the world's tallest man before, but his record was not verified because he repeatedly refused to be measured by the Guinness Book of Records.

   By the time he had qualified as a vet and begun working at a clinic an hour away, Mr Stadnyk measured 2.03m (6ft 8in). He soon outgrew his bike and began taking the bus.

   He later became too large for the bus and had to use the family's horse-drawn cart.

Leonid Stadnyk harnesses his horse in the village of Podoliantsy, Ukraine's northwestern Zhytomyr region, 212 kilometers (131.74 miles) west of the capital Kiev.(Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo)

(click here to enlarge photo)

    Since then he has made numerous online friends, including several in the United States, Australia and Russia. Stadnik hopes to learn English so he can communicate better with his Anglophone contacts; currently, he relies on computer translations, which he says are often inadequate.

   Mr Stadnyk had to give up his job six years ago, after his feet were frostbitten because he could not afford proper shoes for his size 64 feet.

   Leonid Stadnyk, a 37-year-old former veterinarian, is 8 inches taller (20 centimetres) than the former titleholder, China's Bao Xishun, who measured 7 feet 9 inches.

Since his recognition by Ukrainian record keepers four years ago, and by Guinness in 2007, people from all over Ukraine and the world have shipped him outsized clothing, provided his home with running water and recently presented him with a giant bicycle.
   Photo: Ukrainian veterinarian, Leonid Stadnyk, 2.57 m (8 feet 5 inches) tall, the world's tallest living man, rides a bicycle specially made for him, in the village of Podoliantsy, Ukraine's northwestern Zhytomyr region, 212 km west of the capital Kiev on March 23, 2008. Stadnik's growth spurt started at age 14 after a brain operation apparently stimulated his pituitary gland. Stadnyk, 37, is still growing up. (AP)

  (enlarge photo)

  "Thanks to good people I have shoes and clothes," said the 37-year-old former veterinarian, who still lives with his 66-year-old mother.   

   ...He's got a new car now, courtesy of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. He went to Kiev this week to take charge of the super-size van.  (enlarge photo)

    Stadnyk at first struggled to squeeze into the passenger's seat, his knees nearly reaching his face.  

  Once in, Mr Yushchenko briefly drove the beaming Stadnyk around. Local authorities have promised to supply fuel. Photo: Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko speaks with Ukrainian Leonid Stadnyk, the world's tallest man, measuing 2.55 meters, in Kiev, 24 March 2008.
   Ukrainian president presented Leonid Stadnyk with a car which was specially adapted for him by Ukrainian corporation Autozaz-Daewoo. EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO
(enlarge photo)
    "In this car I will be able to drive more and to travel more, as I very much enjoy travelling ," Stadnyk told reporters.
   (enlarge photo)
    A lack of a driver's license would not deter him from spending time behind the wheel, he said.
    "For now someone will have to drive me," Stadnyk said. "But I will 'resolve' the question of a driver's license soon."   

   A German man who said he was his distant relative invited Stadnyk for a visit several years ago. On the trip, Stadnik got to sample frog legs in an elegant restaurant and saw a roller coaster in an amusement park both for the first time.

    Shortly after that, Stadnyk came home one day and saw a brand-new computer connected to the Web sitting on his desk a gift from a local Internet provider. Company workers "sneaked into the house like little spies" to install the equipment, Stadnyk joked.
   To keep his height and weight in check, a Russian engineer has developed a body-building machine, which suits tall people. The Russian engineer, Aleksander Barshulyak, said, "the aim of this machine is to train leg muscles and the strength of the joints." Stadnyk said, "I have problems with my weight and my legs tire often. I think this is normal for me, but I am working on this. I train myself. And this body-building machine that was presented to me will help me fight my aches."
     Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko's personal tailor has made Stadnyk two tracksuits .

  (enlarge photo)

   Local authorities have also promised to supply gas to Stadnik's village, 200 km west of the capital, Kiev. On Sunday, a local organisation for the disabled gave Stadnyk a giant bike so he can pedal to the grocery store, which is in a nearby village. The group also presented Stadnik with a fitness machine.

   "I have always dreamt that my life and the life of my loved ones... would become more comfortable," Stadnyk said. "My dream is coming true."
   (enlarge photo)

    His neighbours joke that they may also benefit from Stadnyk's success. "Of course we are proud of him we may have gas here soon thanks to him," said Nila Kravchuk, 75.

    Since he quit his job, Stadnik has concentrated on managing the family garden and taking care of his three cows, one horse and assorted pigs and chickens. He lives with his mother Halyna, 66, and his sister Larysa, 42.

    Stadnyk says his dream now is finding a soul mate, just like the former titleholder, China's Bao Xishun, who was married in 2007. "I think the future holds that for me," he said.

   The tallest man in medical history was Illinois native Robert Pershing Wadlow, who was 8 feet 11 inches and died in 1940 at the age of 22.

     World's Tallest Man Has Trouble Fitting In Video


   Photos: AP, EPA, Reuters,  

   Saturday, March 14, 2009

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