The longest female legs measuring 132 cm (51.9 in) belong to Svetlana Pankratova according to Guinness World Records. Svetlana, who is a 6-foot-5 Russian native is, as one can expect, an assistant coach for the George Mason High School girls’ basketball team. Before becoming a coach in Falls Church, the woman with the longest legs in the world “also played basketball in Portugal, Israel, and Spain before retiring in 2000,” wrote CBS DC in a news report on March 11, 2013.
When Svetlana Pankratova, who was born on April 29, 1971, grew up in Volgograd in Russia, she was already the tallest one in kindergarten and since children were arranged from tallest to shortest, the little kindergarten girl with the longest legs was always at the head of the line.
While having the longest legs was an advantage in kindergarten, it became a disadvantage in high school. Svetlana says that life as a teen with the longest legs “wasn’t easy because kids do tease you. … They tease whenever something is – I wouldn’t say not normal – but when something is different. So I would get teased a lot for being tall.”
In an interview with Falls Church News-Press, Svetlana shared that she didn’t really notice that her legs were extraordinarily long until she was a teen and it was a challenge for her and her mother to buy clothes, especially pants for her.
“I never thought about it when I was growing up,” said the woman with the longest female legs. “I just never paid attention to my legs.”
While Svetlana started out being a swimmer, it didn’t take long for local basketball coaches in Russia to notice her and following her coaches' encouragement to play basketball instead of swimming allowed Svetlana to travel around the world.
From 1992 to 1995, Svetlana played women's basketball at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond in Virginia, where she set two school records as an impact player. She graduated from VCU in 1997.
In 2000, after having played basketball in Russia, Portugal, Israel, Spain, and the United States, Svetlana retired and lived on the Costa del Sol in Spain working for an estate agent.
In 2002, a friend of Svetlana “saw a news story featuring a British woman who claimed to have the world’s longest legs for a woman. She showed Pankratova the article and suggested that Pankratova may in fact be the woman with the world’s longest legs. That’s when Pankratova contacted the Guinness Book of World Records to verify the claim. … At first, she thought it was a ‘silly idea,’ but she went ahead with the plan after being encouraged by her friend. It took six years, a lot of documentation and plenty of emails and calls to prove that she had the longest legs. ‘It’s not like I was always on top of it,’ Pankratova said. ‘I had other things to do and just kind of let it go’.”
It was on July 8, 2003, in Torremolinos, Spain, that Svetlana Pankratova’s legs were verified to be the world’s longest legs according to Guinness World Records.
On Sept. 16, 2008, the woman with the world’s longest female legs appeared with the then world’s smallest man to promote the 2009 edition of the Guinness World Records. In 2008, The Times World News reported about the two “Guinness World Record candidates [that]don’t see eye to eye” that,
“He Pingping, 20, a restaurateur from Inner Mongolia, was born with primordial dwarfism and is 2ft 5.37in tall – just over half the length of Svetlana Pankratova’s legs, which measure 4ft 3.9in." In March of 2010, He Pingping, died at the age of 21 while taking part in a television show in Rome. “He was taken to hospital but died on Saturday from what is believed to be heart complications.”
Unlike He Pingping, who was the then smallest man in the world, Svetlana Pankratova is not the tallest woman in the world but the woman with the world’s longest female legs. Her upper body is of much more typical dimensions and Svetlana's total height is 1.956 m (6 ft 5 in).. Svetlana does have very large feet with a size 13 (US), 46 (EU).
In 2010, Svetlana came back to the United States after reconnecting with her former college acquaintance, Jack Gosnell, fromVirginia Commonwealth University.
In August of 2011, Jack Gosnell who lives in Falls Church and Svetlana got married and when “LaBryan Thomas, head coach of George Mason High School’s girls varsity team, found out that Pankratova lived in the area," he invited her to start working with the girls basketball team in the middle of the 2010-11 season.
Svetlana’s position as an assistant coach for the George Mason High girls basketball team does not only provide her with the opportunity to show young girls what the woman with the world’s longest legs can do with them but also to visit her alma mater in Richmond, where the state championship is played.