Top American Olympic athletes came together to meet an intense challenge ahead of Rio, one they weren't sure they would even be able to attempt: blowing a really big bubblegum bubble.
Guinness World Records had challenged them to take on the current title-holder, whose record has been standing for more than a decade.
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Athletes including sprinter English Gardner, long jumper Tori Bowie, wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden, archer Mackenzie Brown, and sprinter LaShawn Merritt were given their choice of gum brands on the Guinness World Records show "For the Record" in partnership with NBC Sports. Then they went for the gold. A caliper was on hand to help measure.
The guy who actually holds the illustrious Guinness World Records title is Brad Fell, a journalist from Alabama who blew a 20-inch bubble from three pieces of Double Bubble gum in April 2004. He didn't use his hands or outside assistance to aid with the bubble-blowing. You'd think someone else would have surpassed that by now, although apparently keeping a bubble going without popping is harder than it looks.
It also doesn't help to be distracted, either. American rower Katelin Snyder nearly choked on her gum when the Guinness team reminded her (video) about the record for longest fingernails. Warning: They also show a classic photo. Water polo player Tony Azevedo blew two tiny bubbles at once, and Merritt gets close to halfway on the caliper, but that's about all.
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Do I recognize these new "attempts" as a ploy by NBC Sports to get people to watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Rio Olympics? Yes, definitely. That said, it's fun to see world-class athletes really struggle to blow even basic bubblegum bubbles. It's OK. We're likely to see them perform remarkable feats later.
My favorite sad attempt comes from everybody's uncle Bob Costas, who can barely talk with his mouth full of Double Bubble. He chose the same gum brand as current record-holder Fell, but sadly there is no Guinness World Record for "flatulent bubbles." Yet.