Local girl sets world record

CAMERON – It’s official. Maddie Ross is now Guinness World Record holder.

Her journey, which began on a cool October Friday night in Cameron, culminated on New Year’s Eve inside the Ohio Valley mall as nearly 100 friends, family, well-wishers and official witness watched the 14-year-old teen break the Guinness record for consecutive handsprings.

Last week, Ross received her official certificate from Guinness HQ in London that she owns the record.

It’s one she intends to improve upon either this spring or fall. It’s one she had easily bested in October.

And it’s also one that she nearly didn’t break when it mattered.

Back in October, Ross’ mother Missi was watching the today show when then 16-year-old Texas teen Miranda Ferguson was featured on the Today Show after setting the Guinness mark for handsprings at 35.

Missi Ross, the owner of Arielettes in Sherrard, had a feeling her daughter could best that mark and phoned Maddie during school to inquire about her interest in trying.

That night before the football game, Maddie Ross was filmed attempting to break the record, one she shattered by performing 43 consecutive back handsprings on the soft grass of the Dragons’ field.

But, since there were no officially designated witnesses, representatives from Guinness explained she’d have to do it again.

That necessitated the official record-breaking attempt inside the mall on New Year’s Eve.

Ross was primed and ready, confident in her ability to break the record. She was so confident that she had set her goal at 50.

She set off on her first pass down the main corridor inside the mall but didn’t count on two issues. The first was minor and correctable. Not having the benefit of the painted white lines of the football field, Ross began veering off course slightly, forcing an overcorrection to get back on track about 20 handsprings into her attempt.

The second issues was a major one and it nearly cost Ross her record.

Ross hadn’t planned on the lack of give of the concrete mall floor and the repeated pounding of her hands and feet on its surface began to take their toll. After 30 handspring, just five shy of tying the record, Ross had to stop.

She regained her composure and made a second attempt. This time, she only made it though 24 rotations before stopping.

Tears of frustration and anger had set in and Ross needed a few minutes to get her mind right.

“I was frustrated,” Ross said. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it the third time. It hurt. It wasn’t the carpet, more the concrete that was hurting the inside of my hands. That was unexpected.”

Her mother told Ross to change up her thinking and not think 50, only beating the record.

So one more time, not wanting to disappoint herself or the large number of supporters lining the mall corridor cheering her on, Ross mustered the courage to give it one final go.

She broke the record at 36 and immediately stopped as her family and friends swarmed her to offer their congratulations.

“Once I got to 36, I had beat it and I was done,” Ross said.

For days following New Year’s Eve, Ross’ palms of her hands were puffy and sore. Her feet were swollen. She had performed 90 back handsprings on a surface with little give in the span of less than 90 minutes.

She plans to better her mark either this spring or fall, on the field in Cameron.

“It makes a huge difference being able to do it on a football field,” she admitted.

The certificate marked the end of a strange journey, beset with obstacles to overcome, both in and out of her control.

After the October attempt, Missi Ross repeatedly attempted to contact the Guinness people. Her daughter’s 43 handsprings was on film and numerous witnesses in attendance could attest to the video, and the attempts, authenticity.

But Guinness in officials in London were having difficulty getting a hold of their New York office. After all, that was during the initial days of Hurricane Sandy cleanup.

Then, after planning her official attempt on New Year’s Eve, travelling from Cameron to the mall became problematic because of a winter storm that blanketed the Ohio Valley, making driving a challenge.

This is far from Ross’ first major success. A quick scan of the wall at Arielettes tells the story of her achievements in dance and tumbling as dozens and dozens of trophies and plaques, some taller than Ross herself, line the wall.

But being a world-record holder is a moment she will treasure forever.

Hughes may be reached at mhughes@timesleaderonline.com