Popular Culture

15 of the Youngest Record Breakers


Nothing is more humbling than watching someone break a record. It could be the world’s fastest person or the world’s fattest; ultimately, you still pale in comparison. But as horrifying as it is to realize you’ll never win the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition, there is simply nothing more humbling than learning about children breaking worldwide records. In an effort to amuse and/or depress you, here are 15 of the youngest record breakers of all time.

John Montgomery Ward: Youngest pitcher ever to throw a perfect game

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Throwing a perfect game is one of the hardest feats in baseball. There are three outs per inning and nine innings per game, meaning you must retire 27 of the opposing team batters in succession without allowing a single one to reach base. In the recorded history of the sport, a perfect game has been thrown only twenty times. The youngest player to ever record a perfect game was John Montgomery Ward, who achieved this feat at the age of 20 years and 105 days old in 1881, pitching for the now defunct Providence Grays. Surprisingly, shortly after Ward pitched his perfect game he went on to become a full-time position player, much to the dismay of Fantasy Baseball pioneers.

Jessica Watson: Youngest person to ever sail around the world

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Sailing is really annoying because that stupid boom keeps swinging around with every slight change in the wind, threatening to hit you in the head and send you straight into the water while you are busy trying to reach whatever destination you have set out for that would probably have been best reached via motorboat. So it’s pretty much inconceivable that Jessica Waton, a 16 year old from Australia (Australia holds a record, really?) was able to sail around the WORLD unassisted. Imagine how many times she must have had to avoid that boom! Who knows what kind of parents would let their sixteen year old undertake such a ridiculous journey, but Australia is all far away and weird so it’s basically impossible to know. Hopefully they loaded the boat up with Koalas because the sea can be a cruel and lonely mistress.

Jessica Gaude: Fattest kid in the world

Obesity is a huge and disgusting problem. It’s impossible to understand how parents could ever allow their child to become obese by the age of seven, but we all know most people are stupid and most stupid people love to procreate. Odds are that some of their miserable whelps will be subjected to their idiotic or negligent dietary philosophies. But even then it’s hard to imagine that any parent, no matter how idiotic, would allow their poor daughter to reach 489 pounds by the age of seven… Yet it happened. Jessica Gaude is allowed to eat 10,000 calories each and every day, which contributed to more than doubling her weight in four years (at the age of three Jessica weighed 222 pounds). Because of her size, Jessica was unable to walk and was forced to resort to rolling her grotesquely rotund body around as a means of locomotion. Luckily, after Jessica was hospitalized because her weight made it difficult for her to breathe, doctors intervened and helped her and her family reduce Jessica’s weight by nearly 300 pounds. Still, Jessica’s family have basically cursed her with a lifetime of horrible and unsightly stretch marks which is frankly pretty awful too.

Tathagat Avatar Tulsi: Youngest PhD holder in the world

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At 21 the most significant accomplishment most of us have achieved probably involved a beer bong. Obviously, Tathagat Avatar Tulsi is not your average 21 year old, since that’s the age at which he was awarded his PhD in physics. He could probably design the most efficient and badass beer bong ever! Tulsi had previously completed his bachelor degree in Physics when he was ten years old and achieved his masters at the age of 15. In addition to being the youngest PhD holder in the world, Tulsi also holds the record for the shortest PhD thesis ever submitted at a mere 33 pages. However, because of the groundbreaking nature of his work, the length of Tulsi’s thesis was hardly an issue. As amazing as his accomplishments might be, Tulsi isn’t exactly preternaturally gifted in the looks department, so you can probably take solace in the fact that you’ll always be able to pull more babes/studs than him, PhD or no PhD.

Sergey Karjakin: Youngest grandmaster in the history of chess

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Simple to learn, yet infinitely complex, chess is a game that has captured the hearts and minds of nerds across the world. Because the rules are so simple, and because the game requires no more physical acuity than simple eye-hand coordination, the world of chess has for a long time fostered “chess prodigies” that became extremely skilled at the game at very young ages. In terms of ranking players, grandmaster is the highest rank a player can achieve in the world of chess, and the youngest person to ever attain the title is Sergey Karjakin of the Ukraine. Karjakin was eligible for the title of grandmaster when he was merely 12 years old, only 7 days after his birthday. Now 20, Karjakin is currently ranked as the eleventh best player in the world. Still, despite so many accomplishments at such a young age, Karjakin is still not a household name, probably because chess is totally for nerds.

Eleanor Gamble: Youngest golfer to score a hole-in-one

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Golf is the kind of sport that requires years of dedication, practice and hard work before you can even step foot on a course and play the game with any level of competency. But like just about everything, some people just inherently “get it,” and are able to make this infuriating sport so beloved by the elderly look like mere child’s play. Eleanor Gamble, of West Wratting, Cambs (that’s in England FYI), made anyone who has spent hours at a driving range with nothing more to show for it than blistered hands look like chumps when she sunk an 86-yard hole-in-one at the tender age of 5. You could probably spend your whole life golfing and never get a hole-in-one! The previous holder of the record was an 8 year old girl from America (girls must be better at golf), so get out there with your four year-olds and get them swinging some wood so we can bring this record back home where it belongs, people!

Dale Wright: Youngest grandfather in the world

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Becoming a grandfather is one of those things that really can cause a bit of an existential crisis. It basically means “you’re next, sucker, so better savor these last fleeting years because you’re gonna be so dead so soon!” Well, that’s the way it should work if you are from a relatively normal family and don’t have some freaky great-grandfather hanging around for some reason. But for Dale Wright, of Warwickshire, Britain, who became a grandfather at 29, the event was probably devoid of such morbidity. Wright, who became a father at 14, obviously was a huge and positive influence on his son Stephen, who decided to emulate the father he idolized by having a child at 14 himself. What an awesome family! Have you guys seriously never heard of things like condoms? At 14 you should be worried about that big algebra test coming up or making the varsity team next year, not preparing for the rigors of parenthood, which even people twice your age routinely screw up. This dubious record England can keep.

Lee Zhen Siong: Youngest heart attack victim

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For the most part, being the youngest person to ever do something is a pretty cool accomplishment. But there are a few records one should definitely stay clear of… For instance, being the youngest person to ever die from a heart attack. Upon returning from a camping trip, Lee Zhen Siong complained to his family of chest pains, but of course none of them thought “heart attack” because 13 year-olds don’t typically suffer from those. It turns out that was exactly what was happening to Zhen Siong, who collapsed and died at his tuition center. The previous youngest heart attack victim had been 27, over twice Zhen Siong’s age. The unlikely scenario might have had something to do with Zhen Siong’s unusual build, who was close to six feet tall at the time of his death.

Tatum O’Neal: Youngest actor to ever win an Academy Award

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Some actors spend their whole lives dreaming of winning an Oscar and act in award-baiting project after project, vainly searching for that role that will finally net them that gleaming golden statuette. And some actors receive theirs when they’re only 10 years old. Tatum O’Neal received the Best Supporting Actress award for her role in Paper Moon, her very first film, as a Depression-era child con-artist. While she went on to act in some other films as a teenager, like The Bad News Bears, her acting career eventually fell by the wayside while she focused on her personal life and marriage to tennis star John McEnroe. Fun Tatum O’Neal fact: one of her first public boyfriends was none other that pop-star Michael Jackson, who also achieved great success at a very young age as the lead singer of the Jackson 5. Unfortunately, like many young celebrities, O’Neal eventually got involved with drugs, and spent many years battling a heroin addiction, all of which is chronicled in her must-read autobiography, A Paper Life.

LeAnn Rimes: Youngest “artist” to ever win a music award nobody cares about

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Oh Grammy Awards! Never has there been an award more self-indulgent and out-of-touch than you! Whether you’re being awarded to U2 for their latest mediocrity or to some band whose music doesn’t fit into your ridiculously specific genre categories, you consistently manage to make yourself as irrelevant as possible. So it was perhaps easy for people to overlook the fact that LeeAnn Rimes became the youngest person to ever win a Grammy when she won in the “Best New Artist” category back in 1997, because nobody cares about records associated with the Grammy Awards. Not only was Rimes the youngest person ever to receive the horrible award, but she was also the first country performer to win it in the “Best New Artist” category, a category that is definitely important because it is a huge barometer of future commercial and artistic success (‘sup Milli Vanilli and Hootie & the Blowfish?).

Dorothy Straight: Youngest published author

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In 1964, at only 4 years old, Dorothy Straight became the youngest published author ever. Her children’s book, How the World Began, was intended to be a gift to her grandmother (aww!), but upon perusing the final product, Dorothy’s parents smelled a best-seller and promptly got in touch with publishers. Published two years later by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, How the World Began didn’t exactly blaze its way to the top of the New York Times Bestsellers list, but it was certainly enough to merit Dorothy’s distinction of being the youngest professional author. Dorothy’s writing career stalled after her initial success, and her sophomore novel, How the World Will End: A Prediction, was both a critical and commercial failure, and effectively ended Dorothy’s short, young career.

Marjorie Gestring: Youngest Olympic gold medalist

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While the Olympics are always full of young athletic phenoms, there is young and then there’s young. The unfortunately named Marjorie Gestring belongs to that latter category. At the age of 13 years and 267 days, Gestring became the youngest ever gold medalist when she took home the gold for the United States in the diving competition during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. It’s pretty crazy to be the best amateur athlete in the world at anything at the age of 13, even if it’s something kinda lame like diving. While Gestring is the youngest gold medalist, the youngest medalist period has her beat by a good three years. Dimitros Loundras of Greece won a silver medal at 10 years, 218 days in the parallel bars team event during the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens.

Prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis: Youngest billionaire in the world

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While perhaps he’s not as young as some of the other record holders on this list, Prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis definitely score points for holding perhaps the most useful record of them all. At 25 years old, Prince Albert of Germany is the youngest billionaire in the world. Prince Albert actually first made an appearance on the Forbes list at the age of 8, but he didn’t technically inherit his family’s fortune until he turned 18. Worth 2.1 billion dollars, Prince Albert has access to a virtually limitless supply of money at an age where it would probably be pretty awesome to have vast amounts of wealth at your disposal. Think of all the take-out this guy probably orders! If it weren’t for the economic meltdown, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, would be the world’s youngest billionaire at the age of 24, but, y’know, the economy tanked. Tough luck Zuckerberg, at least you have your measly millions to comfort you!

Pelé: Youngest player to score a World Cup goal

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To play in the World Cup is to have the eyes of entire nation (unless you play for the U.S. team) and world upon you. While it’s almost certainly a ton of pressure, it’s also an amazing venue for any professional soccer player to bring pride to his country of origin. Even so, some of the best players in the world have trouble scoring goals in the World Cup despite years of success on club teams. While young players are not uncommon on national teams, they rarely end up contributing goals during their inaugural World Cup appearances. This wasn’t the case for Pelé, perhaps the most successful World Cup participant of all time. At the age of 17, Pelé netted his very first World Cup goal for Brazil against Wales during the 1958 games. Pelé and the rest of the Brazilian team went on to win the entire tournament, bringing Brazil the first of it’s many subsequent World Cup victories.

Jordan Romero: Youngest person to scale Mount Everest

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Mount Everest is often used as a euphemism for a nearly insurmountable task. Although it has actually been conquered by more than 4,000 climbers since it was first climbed by Sir Edmund Hillary, it remains a dangerous and challenging trek best left to expert climbers — or awesome 13 year olds. Jordan Romero, of Big Bear, California, became the youngest person to scale Mount Everest when he and his team reached the summit in May 2010. Romero and his team tackled the mountain from the Tibetan side, clawing their way the 29,035 feet to the top. Romero’s feat was accomplished on the same day that Nepali climber Apa Sherpa made his way to the top of Everest for the 20th time, the most successful climbs up the mountain in history, which makes him the youngest man to ever scale Everest the most amount of times.


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