GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — As 12-year-old Palestinian Yousef al-Bahtini distorts his body into almost impossible shapes, he dreams of entering the Guinness World Records.
That dream could come true in the coming weeks, provided Jordan and Israel grant him permits to travel for a time trial.
Bahtini lives in Gaza, the Palestinian enclave of two million people under blockade by Israel and Egypt.
But using YouTube videos and with his family’s help, he has taught himself to bend in seemingly impossible ways. And now his family believe Guinness should recognize him.
“This talent was discovered by my brother and I’ve improved it. I will participate in the Guinness Book of Records with a forward movement of 20 metres in 14 seconds, and it’s name is ‘The Roll,'” said Bahtini.
The move involves rolling forward onto your stomach before flicking your bent legs up behind you into a crab position, then rolling back through and dropping onto your chest again.
The current record, set in 2013 by Britain’s Leilani Franco, is 20 meters (45 feet) in 17 seconds.
Bahtini’s family say he has done it in 14, and sent the evidence to Guinness to prove it.
The company wrote to the family in July to say he had been accepted for a time trial.
They don’t, however, have an office in Gaza so Bahtini must travel to Jordan for an official test.
The family are waiting for a Jordanian permit, after which they will apply for permission to transit through Israel.
“Guinness are understanding of the circumstances in the Gaza Strip and therefore have not specified a particular date for our participation,” Yousef’s brother Mohammed, who is also his trainer, told AFP.
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2007 when the Islamist Hamas group took control of the Strip in a bloody coup, ousting the Palestinian Authority leadership. Both countries say the security blockade is meant to prevent Hamas, a terror group avowedly committed to the destruction of Israel, from importing weaponry into Gaza to use against Israel.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008, the most recent in the summer of 2014.
Gaza has also been beset by a power crisis this year, with residents receiving only a few hours of electricity a day, which has worsened since Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cut off electricity payments to Gaza in May.
Mohammed added they wanted to get his brother’s name into the Guinness World Records to “raise the name of Palestine high.”
If successful, Bahtini would be the second Gazan contortionist to enter the Guinness records book in a year.
In February, 13-year-old Mohammad al-Sheikh broke the record for the most full body revolutions maintaining a chest stand in one minute.
The move involves lying on the chest, bending the back to put the feet in front of the head then rotating the hips to run the feet in laps around the body.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.