Guinness names shortest man: How tall is Junrey Balawing? (PICTURES)

Nobody could explain why Balawing stopped growing two months after his birth, his father said, adding that he first walked with help from his parents when he was 5 years old. Sindangan Vice Mayor Bess Jagonio, a doctor, speculated that he may have had an endocrine or a birth-related defect. AP

Junrey Balawing holds Philippine flag at ceremony in southern Philippines on June 11, 2001, after being named world's shortest man
AP

(CBS/AP) Who's the world's shortest man? Say hello to Junrey Balawing, the son of a poor Filipino blacksmith. Balawing, who stands less than two feet tall, was given the title by the Guinness World Records people when he turned 18 on Sunday, sparking a celebration in his hometown of Sindangan in the southern Philippines.

PICTURES - Meet world's shortest man, Junrey Balawing

Balawing, who measured 23.5 inches (60 centimeters) during the ceremony, took over the title from Nepal's Khagendra Thapa Magar, who is 26.4 inches (67 centimeters) tall, according to Guinness representative Craig Glenday. The crown comes with no cash award, only a certificate from Guinness.

"Thank you," Balawing told the crowd in a local dialect that was translated by his father, Reynaldo.

Balawing tried repeatedly before managing to blow out the candles on the cake and clapped heartily each time the crowd applauded. He was later heard saying "Kapoy," or "I'm tired."

Nobody could explain why Balawing stopped growing two months after his birth, his father said, adding that his son first walked with help from his parents when he was 5 years old.

Sindangan Vice Mayor Bess Jagonio, a doctor, speculated that Balawing may have had an endocrine or a birth-related defect. There are many causes of extreme short stature, including thyroid and hereditary disorders, hormone deficiencies, and malnutrition, according to the Human Growth Foundation website.

Balawing's brother and two sisters are all average size.

Balawing - who is about the size of a toddler and has a child's demeanor - needs to hold onto something to stand because of weak knees. He was photographed propping himself up with empty Coca-Cola bottles, which were taller than his waistline.

Glenday said he hopes the international fame will bring in gifts and medical supplies to ensure Balawing's health, adding that he was struck by Balawing's lively personality.

"Although he's short, he takes that in stride," Glenday said. "He has this cheeky smile."

  • David W Freeman

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