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Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 17:04 GMT
Giant Ukrainian reaches for record
Ukrainian Leonid Stadnyk
Stadnyk has high hopes of clinching the title

It is tough being one of the tallest men on Earth. You cannot get through your own front door, you have to bend over double in the bus, and you have to find shoes so large they could house a small dog.

The trouble is, you just can't get shoes that size. That is why Leonid Stadnyk, from Zhytomyr in central Ukraine, spends so much of his time indoors.

At 8ft 4in, or just over two-and-a-half metres tall, Leonid would appear to be a contender for the title of world's tallest man. A Tunisian currently recognised by the Guinness Book of Records measures in at 7ft 9in.

But being that tall can make life a little complicated. His UK shoe size, for example, would be a 23, or a 25 in the US and around a 60 in continental Europe. And that sort of footwear is not easy to find.

Ukrainian Leonid Stadnyk
New shoes will help Mr Stadnyk get out more

"Maybe somewhere in America, England or France it wouldn't be like this," he told Ukrainian television in his big, booming voice. "But here in Ukraine, it's very hard to be different."

No wonder a pair of boots 19 inches long, custom-made and presented to Leonid by a group of businessmen from western Ukraine, is the best gift he has received for some time.

He has been promised another pair for Easter, with a jacket thrown in as well. Newly suited and booted, Leonid, who qualified with flying colours as a veterinary surgeon more than 10 years ago, is now eager to leave the confines of his own home and hone his skills.

He must be hoping there is a job out there big enough to test him.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Country profile: Ukraine
02 Mar 04  |  Country profiles

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