EDWARD Nino Hernandez is in many ways a typical 24-year-old Colombian male.
He loves to dance, dreams of owning a car – preferably a Mercedes – and wants to see the world.
Top of his list of people he would like to meet are Jackie Chan, Sylvester Stallone and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
What sets Nino apart is his size.
He is slightly taller than a piece of hand luggage and weighs just 22lb (10kg).
Nino has just been officially certified as the world’s shortest living man by Guinness World Records, measuring 27in (70cm).
“He hasn’t grown since he was two years old,” his mother, Noemi Hernandez, said of the oldest of her five living children.
The previous title-holder was He Pingping, of China, who was 1.5in (4cm) taller and died on March 13. The Guinness people discovered Nino afterwards.
They say Nino’s reign is not likely to last long, however. Khagendra Thapa Magar, of Nepal, is expected to take over after he turns 18 on October 14.
He measures about 22in (56cm) and is recognised by Guinness as the shortest living teenager.
Doctors never could explain why Nino is so small, his parents said.
“They never gave us a diagnosis,” his mother said during an interview in the family’s sparely furnished apartment in Bosa, a mostly poor district of southern Bogota.
The 43-year-old said Nino weighed just 3.3lb (1.5kg) at birth and was 15in (38cm) long.
She said doctors at the National University studied him until he was three and then lost interest. She and her husband, a security guard, lost a daughter who was similarly small in 1992, just before her first birthday.
The couple’s youngest child, 11-year-old Miguel Angel, stands 37in (93cm) tall and has facial features similar to Nino.
The other three boys are of normal height and appearance.
“I feel happy because I’m unique,” Nino said.
He does, however, have his problems: cataracts in both eyes which blur his vision and, says his mother, require urgent surgery that the family cannot afford.
“He doesn’t see well. He isn’t able to read,” she said.
During an interview, Nino’s eyes water and he fidgets with the laces on his toddler-sized black dress shoes.
Other than his eyes, he has no medical complaints.
Nino has a girlfriend.
She’s 18, is named Fanny and measures just under 5ft (1.5m), he says.
Nino has earned some cash dancing at department stores and is now acting in a film in which he plays a pint-sized drug thug.
Nino smiles broadly at the idea of more acting jobs and more life in the spotlight.
And he says he has got used to all the picture-taking.
But being the world’s smallest man does have its drawbacks.
“It bothers me that people are always touching me and picking me up,” he said.
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