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Student tries to beat Guinness World record — backward

October 16, 2013

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Mercy High School senior Haley Gold prepares to spell out words backward Oct. 7 during a Guinness World Record challenge at the Farmington Community Library.

FARMINGTON — Seventeen-year-old Haley Gold woke up one morning with the ability to spell words drawkcab. Or rather backward, and fast. And the Mercy High School senior hasn’t looked back.

“If I’m listening to one person talk for a really long time, I’ll start to subconsciously say (what they are saying) backward,” Gold said. “But I can, like, do it whenever I want.”

Gold, who discovered her abilities as a sophomore at Mercy in 2011, is attempting to break the current Guinness World Record held by Shishir Hathwar of India, who spelled 30 words backward in one minute in May 2012 in Oman, in southwest Asia.

More than 7,000 miles away, at Farmington Community Library, Gold spelled 35 words backward Oct. 7. 

Some of the four-, six- and eight-letter words she spelled backward included: survivor, accident, please, birdcage, headband, hardcore and rock.

Her father, Eric Gold, selected the words from online and did not show them to her beforehand. She had two witnesses, per Guinness World Records rules, in attendance.

Guinness requires that the challenge be done in front of two witnesses and at a public venue.

“I was really nervous because I really wanted to break it this time,” she said of the record after her event.

In June, she attempted to break the record for the first time after the original record of 16 words spelled backward was set by a UK woman in April 2012.

Her father said after the event that they were trying to beat that record by 10 words when they found out that Hathwar already broke the record in May 2012.

“Guinness never updated (their information),” he said.

He said his daughter has always been smart, but it surprised him when she gained this skill.

“It is interesting,” he said. “I don’t know where it came from or how she does it.”

He said that after mailing in a copy of her challenge to Guinness World Records Oct. 9, he hopes to hear back from Guinness soon. He also has high hopes for her future, if she sets the record.

“She wants to be able to put this on her college applications,” he said. “She also wants to meet Ellen DeGeneres and be on her show.”

Haley Gold said her family and friends are supportive of her talent.

“When I told (my family and friends) I’m thinking of breaking the world record, they thought it was really cool,” she said.

Farmington Community Library Branch Head Elyse Streit, who read the words for Haley Gold to spell backward, said she has never had a request like the one she received from the Golds. Haley and Eric Gold approached Streit several months ago to do the challenge.

“We all collaborated to do that for (Haley Gold),” Streit, who has been with the library more than 15 years, said. “It is a different way (to use the library). This is an interesting request.”

She added that if anyone else had possible world-record breaking talents, let the library know.

“It would be something we could entertain, if somebody else wanted to break a record,” she said. “Who knows?”

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