Were you one of the 356 people who bounced paddle balls on the Davidson Green last September shooting for a world record? Pat yourself on the back. It’s now official: You are a Guinness World Record holder. Organizer Steve Langley of Hutnersville, who calls himself the Paddle Ball King, got the word Monday.
“It’s a relief,” Mr. Langley said Monday afternoon. “Although it was success by any measure of the fun … To get the official Guinness certificate is very satisfying. It was a pretty monumental effort and we had to jump through a lot of hoops.”
Until last year, there were no world records of any kind for paddle balls. Last April, in an appearance on Italian TV, Mr. Langley established the record for the most paddle balls at once by a single paddle baller – seven – and cemented his name as The Paddle Ball King.
Then he set his sights on the group record. Guinness officials had set a minimum of 250 people, and last Sept. 3, during the Hurricane Hugo Juggling Festival, hundreds of people gathered on the Village Green in downtown Davidson to help Mr. Langley try for the record. People young and old brought their own paddles or snagged handout paddles from sponsor Active People Toys.
At the appointed hour, they paddled continuously for 30 seconds. Mr. Langley led the group in several takes, all recorded on video. After the event, he submitted videos, a written description of the event, the names of all 356 paddle ballers and testimonials from community leaders who witnessed the event.
Then he waited.
He tried communicating with Guinness, but it was difficult and sometimes confusing. Finally on Monday, five months after the event, an envelope arrived on his doorstep with the coveted certificate and a letter confirming the record.
But with it came another bit of unsettling, though confusing news. It’s a little hard to understand, Mr. Langley said, but another group may already have broken the record set here in Davidson. According to Guinness’s correspondence, 412 employees of Johnson & Johnson in England topped the Davidson record on Jan. 25, 2012.
Mr. Langley is trying to get more information from Guinness, but so far no luck. Neither the September record nor the British paddle ball group is listed on the Guinness World Records website yet.
“I’m very confused as to whether our record stood from to Jan. 25 and then they broke it,” Mr. Langley said.
If they did break it, he added, “I want to know so we can start planning to beat this one if we need to.”
He thinks it shouldn’t be too difficult to top 412, if that is the new record. “We can whup that one easy,” he said. On Sept. 3, about 450 would-be paddle ballers actually showed up in Davidson, but the final record-setting group was smaller because they ran out of paddle balls.
[UPDATE: A Guinness World Records spokeswoman on Monday night confirmed that the Davidson record of 356 had been beaten.]
Guinness World Records page on Mr. Langley’s record for an individual doing 7 paddle balls
Sept. 3, 2011 DavidsonNews.net coverage of the record attempt.
Sept. 3, 2011, “Video: world paddle ball record in Davidson.”
The Paddle Ball King (Steve Langley) web page, www.thepaddleballking.net.