Jamaica’s Olympic relay gold medalist Briana Williams will line up against a stacked field in the 60m at Saturday’s Millrose Games at The Armory New Balance Track & Field Center in New York and she is excited by the prospect of the possibilities of what she can deliver.

The 19-year-old Williams will face the likes of Aleia Hobbs and Mikiah Brisco both of whom defeated her in Louisiana, a fortnight ago. Also in the line-up is two-time Olympian English Gardner and Tokyo Olympics 200m bronze medalist Gabby Thomas.

The 2018 World U20 champion, who has been working on her speed these past two weeks, said she is relishing the challenge.

“I feel excited and ready because I've been doing well in training and I’ve focused more on speed work this week to gear up for this meet. The 60m field is loaded so I can’t wait to see how I do,” said the talented teen who is hardly ever daunted by the occasion.

Meanwhile, her coach Ato Boldon sees this as another opportunity for Williams to get more accustomed to competing at the senior level.

“The line-up for the Millrose Games will be a great challenge for Briana as she works through being calm under pressure, which is critical for senior-level competition,” he said.

Williams is one of track and field’s most promising young athletes. She was a member of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where she became the youngest Jamaican ever to win an Olympic gold medal.

With big goals in mind this season, five-time Olympic gold medalist Elaine Thompson-Herah is down to compete over 60m at the Müller Indoor Grand Prix – a World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting – at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham on Saturday, February 19.

“I’m so excited to race in Birmingham to start my 2022 campaign,” said the fastest woman alive by virtue of her 10.54 100m run in Oregon last August.

“I have enjoyed competing in the UK over the years and there is always a special atmosphere at this venue. I ran my PB at this arena in 2017, so competing here means a lot to me.

“This year is a huge one. I have big goals for the World Athletics Championships later this summer, but first I’d like to give fans something to cheer about in Birmingham.”

Last summer, Thompson-Herah clocked 10.61, an Olympic record, to win the 100m at the Tokyo Olympics and then claimed the gold in the 200m in 21.53, the second-fastest time in history. In achieving the double, the 29-year-old Jamaican became the first woman in Olympic history to win both sprints at consecutive Olympic Games.

She added a third gold as a member of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team that set a new national record of 41.02, the third-fastest time ever run for a relay.

In Birmingham, she will face Britain's two-time Olympic bronze medallist Daryll Neita, who also had a strong year in 2021. Last year she recorded lifetime best performances over 100m (10.93) and 200m (22.81) and finished eighth in the Olympic 100m final in Tokyo. Her 60m best is 7.21 from February 2021.

“The last time I raced Elaine indoors was in Birmingham in 2017 when she won, and I was fifth. Although she remains faster than me, I have to believe that the gap has closed since then and that with the backing of our brilliant British supporters, I can be more competitive this time around,” Neita said.

The Müller Indoor Grand Prix is the fifth World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting of 2022. There are seven Gold level meetings across the series, starting with Karlsruhe on 28 January and culminating in Madrid on 2 March.

Other athletes set to compete in Birmingham include Olympic pole vault champion Mondo Duplantis, world indoor 60m hurdles record-holder Grant Holloway, Olympic 1500m silver medallist Laura Muir and Olympic 800m silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson.

 

Jamaican Olympic sprinter TyQuendo Tracey has signed a deal to be a brand ambassador for Lifespan Spring Water, a statement from his publicist said.

World U20 sprint hurdles champion, Ackera Nugent, was in record-breaking form on Saturday’s second day of the Larry Wieczorek Invitational at the Recreation Building in Iowa City, Iowa.

Nugent, 19, set a new meet record of 8.11 for the 60m hurdles in the preliminary round and smashed it in the final, running a personal best of 7.90. The winning time was also a new track record, facility record and meet record.

The time moves Nugent to the 11th spot all-time in collegiate indoor track competition and the best-ever U20 time. Her teammate, Kennedy Bailey finished in second place with a time of 8.3 seconds.

For her efforts, Nugent was one of four MVPs at the meet alongside teammates Johnny Brackins who won the triple jump and Tuesdi Tidwell, who triumphed in the pole vault.

Meanwhile, Nugent’s compatriot Kavia Francis and teammates Mariah Ayers, Aaliyah Miller and Gontse Morake finished with a silver medal and a time of 3:40.87 in the 4x400m relay.

Sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah and sprint hurdler, Hansle Parchment, were named Jamaica’s National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year for 2021, at the RJRGleaner Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards ceremony held on Friday night.

The event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thompson-Herah had a phenomenal 2021 season, which included her winning the 100m at the Diamond League final in Zurich and running 10.54 at the Eugene Diamond League to become the fastest woman alive and second fastest woman of all time.

Her greatest achievement in 2021, however, would have to be when she became the first woman in history to win the sprint double at consecutive Olympic Games.

Backing up her exploits from Rio in 2016, Thompson-Herah produced times of 10.61 and 21.53 to win gold medals in both the 100m and 200m at the Tokyo Olympics, in addition to being a part of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team, alongside Briana Williams, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who finished as runner-up for the Sportswoman of the Year award, and Shericka Jackson, that won the gold medal in a national record 41.02.

Parchment shocked the world to win gold in the Men’s 110m Hurdles in Tokyo, nine years after his bronze medal performance at the London Olympics.

He ran 13.04 to win gold in Tokyo ahead of prohibitive favourite Grant Holloway of the USA.

The past student of Morant Bay High and Kingston College was also third at the Diamond League final in Zurich.

His teammate Ronald Levy, who was the runner-up for the Sportsman of the Year Award, took home the bronze medal in Tokyo.

Other major awards given out on the day include the Chairman's Award to veteran journalist Lance Whittaker; the People's Choice "Performance of the Year Award" to Fraser McConnell; the VM Group Y.O.U.T.H Award to sprinter Tina Clayton and the Gleaner Newspaper Iconic Award to Michael Holding.

Jamaica and Oregon sprinter, Kemba Nelson, picked up where she left off last season with a narrow win in the women’s 60m at the Cougar Classic Invitational in Spokane.

The reigning NCAA champion only narrowly got the better of Double Pillar Athletics sprinter Destiny Smith-Barnett.  In fact, both athletes were given the same time of 7.19 after crossing the line but it was Nelson who had the better time when the photo finish was used.  Oregon’s Jadyn Mays was third in 7.27. 

Elsewhere jumper Lamara Distin, a sophomore at Texas A&M, cleared an indoor personal-best 1.88m to win the women’s high jump at the two-day Ted Nelson Invitational.  Nissi Kabongo of Stephen Austin recorded the second-best mark with 1.85m, while Texas’ Allyson Andress was third with 1.73.

Jamaican sprinter, Briana Williams, equalled her indoor 60m personal best of 7.18 seconds to finish third at the 2022 LSU Purple Tiger Invitational on Friday.

After running 7.20 in her heat to advance, Williams finished third in the final behind the American pair of Aleia Hobbs who ran 7.10 for the win, and Mikiah Briscoe who ran 7.17 for second.

Williams had previously run 7.18 in New York in February 2020.

A double sprint world junior champion in 2018, Williams represented Jamaica as a senior for the first time last year at the Tokyo Olympics, running the opening leg on Jamaica's gold medal-winning 4x100m relay team.

The 19-year-old currently has personal bests of 10.97 in the 100m and 22.50 in the 200m.

 

Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Bronze medallist Deon Lendore died last night after reportedly succumbing to injuries he suffered in a car accident in Texas.

The 29-year-old from Arima, whose 400m personal best was 44.36, was part of the Trinidad and Tobago team that won bronze in the Men’s 4x400m at the 2012 London Olympics and silver at the 2015 World Championships in the same event.

Individually, Lendore won bronze medals in the 400m at the World Indoor Championships, in Oregon, in 2016, where he was also part of T&T's bronze medal-winning 4x400m team and Birmingham in 2018.

A three-time Pan Am Junior Championships silver medallist, Lendore also had a wonderful junior career, which resulted in him excelling at Texas A&M University, winning the Bowerman award in 2014.

President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, Brian Lewis, reacted to the unfortunate news.

“Words cannot adequately express our sadness at the devastating and untimely loss. Deon has flown the Trinidad and Tobago flag with pride, honour, patriotism, and an indomitable will throughout his career while helping and inspiring many. We express our deepest and heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, teammates, coaches, and all who he would have touched. May Deon Rest and Sleep in Eternal Peace,” he said.

Lendore represented T&T at three Olympic Games in 2012, 2016 and 2021 and three World Championships in 2013, 2015 and 2019.

Jamaica track and field icon, Usain Bolt, has hailed American sprinter Justin Gatlin for keeping him sharp throughout his career.

Bolt, who remains the world record holder over both the 100 and 200 metres, retired from the sport in 2017.  His rivalry with the American, though statistically, a tad one-sided at times, was one of the most abiding and, at times, fiercest in the sport of track and field, particularly when the two-faced the starter at major games.

On the biggest stage, it was Gatlin who triumphed in the first two encounters.  Bolt failed to advance past the first round at the 2004 Olympics and it was Gatlin who went on to claim the 200m title, adding to 100m crown, which was won prior.

One year later, Gatlin left the Jamaican far behind in the 200m final to take the sprint double at the 2005 World Championship in Helsinki.  The two did not face off at the 2007 World Championship as Gatlin was banned from the sport for four years after testing positive for a banned substance in 2006.  On that occasion, Bolt finished second to another American Tyson Gay.

From 2008, however, it was Bolt who became the premier force in world sprinting and outside of the rare blip in Osaka 2011, where he false-started in the 100m, when undefeated at major games for almost 9 years.  Gatlin returned to the sport in 2010 but found it impossible to get the better of the Jamaican.  He was eliminated at the semi-final stage of the 2011 World Championships, placed third at 2012 Olympics, was second at the 2013 World Championships.  Gatlin again finished runner-up to Bolt in both the 100m and 200m at the 2015 World Championships and again took silver at Rio Olympics in 2016. 

The American did, however, manage to turn the tables on Bolt at the 2017 World Championships where he claimed gold, with the Jamaican finishing in third place in the final race before he retired. 

  “Justin Gatlin played a very important role in keeping me motivated because he kept me on my toes, he kept me working out,” Bolt explained during Puma's Only See Great campaign.

“He kept me knowing that every season he’s going to be there, if I want to be the best I have to be ready and be prepared to beat him," he added.

Overall, the Jamaican leads the head-to-head match-up between the athletes with a 9-2 advantage, but he admits with Gatlin and others around he always had to look over his shoulder.

"The rivalries were strong and for me Tyson and Justin and Asafa and Blake, they really pushed me through my career to stay on top of my game at all times to be the best me."

When 13-year-old American prodigy D’Asia Duncan steps onto the track at the Gamecock Indoor Challenge in South Carolina on Saturday, her Jamaican coach Xavier Brown is expecting to see further signs of improvement from the youngster, who hopes one day to be like her heroine Allyson Felix.

Brown, 38, has been coaching the teen since the summer of 2020 after the Geneva Christian School eighth-grader moved from Connecticut to Orlando, Florida, to maximize athletic and academic opportunities.

It was at a meet in Orlando where she first met Brown, who appeared ‘out of the blue’ but who would subsequently relieve her mother, Marilyn, of the responsibilities of coaching the young multi-sport athlete.  A straight-A student-athlete, D’Asia is also a three-time national record holder, having established age-group records in the 60m hurdles, 100m hurdles and the pentathlon. She is also a 14-time national champion and 28-time All American.

When Brown took over coaching duties in 2020, D’Asia had personal bests of 14.72 in the 100m hurdles, 17’ eight and a quarter inches in the long jump and five feet in the high jump. She has since run 14.42, jumped 18 feet, three and a quarter inches and five feet one inch in the high jump.

She has also shaved fractions off her 800m time which she has lowered from 2:24 to 2:22 and she opened her season with a 9.18 clocking over 60m hurdles after not competing indoors for several years.

Brown expects to see improvements across the board on Saturday.

“Indoors is something she hasn’t done in years so coming back, so I am looking for bigger performances this time. The 400m that we are doing is trying to get her stronger to do a 200 and a better 100. So we are trying to get her stronger, faster,” he said.

“So we are looking for good things from her tomorrow running the hurdles, the 400m and also jumping a longer distance.”

In Jamaica, Brown was not as heralded a coach as Glen Mills, who coached him to CAC 200m gold in 2006, Stephen Francis or Maurice Wilson, but before he migrated to the United States a few years ago, he had steadily built a reputation as a respected track and field coach, commanding the respect of his peers and athletes along the way.

He got his breakthrough working with sprint hurdler Shermaine Williams, who was then being coached by Lennox Graham. Graham, now an Assistant Coach at Clemson University, coached at Kingston College in the early 2000s before migrating to the United States to transform the track and field programme at Johnson C. Smith University where he guided Williams’ sister, Danielle, to multiple NCAA Division II titles and eventually to the 100m hurdles gold medal at the 2015 World Championships in Helsinki.

Back in 2011, while working as an assistant to Coach Maurice Wilson at the GC Foster College, Brown got the opportunity to coach a couple of Australian sprinters to personal best performances during a successful exchange programme. Since then he has coached at Camperdown High School, Calabar High School, Clarendon College and St Jago High School.

Given his experience and an eye for identifying emerging talent, shortly after migrating to the United States, Brown quickly saw in D’Asia, something special.

“The first time we met in person was at a track meet in Orlando, she was doing the high jump,” Brown recalled.

“D’Asia has a lot of potential. She is a natural talent and with the guidance of her mom and me she will have a lot to offer to the sport in the future.”

However, it was a chance interaction over social media that Brown got in touch with Marilyn, who was then coaching her daughter to one day realise her dreams of becoming a professional and ultimately an Olympian.

“Xavier had been keeping up with D’Asia on social media and would give some feedback via inbox which I would read, respond to and take into consideration because he was truly on point with his observations,” Marilyn recalled.

“He came from Jamaica to Orlando around the time she was preparing for Regionals and advised us that he would like to come to see her compete. Ironically, that weekend we were competing next to him, so we invited him over. He was on time, attentive and I quickly noticed he had an eye for all the areas that needed improvement.

“He helped her become a four-time regional Orlando champion with 100m hurdles, 200m hurdles, high jump and long jump.

“It was at that point we considered having him join our team to alleviate me from coaching and so I can focus on the parenting aspect of it. We extended the offer, he accepted and had immediately has been present, dedicated, patient, cautious and offered lots of knowledge in a variety of areas.”

For D’Asia, Brown becoming her coach was also a bit of a surprise.

“My mom said I had a supporter from a different country coming to my meet in Orlando for regionals and when I met him, he helped me a lot and I did good. Then another day my mom told me that she wanted to have him work with me longer because he knew a lot and could help us, plus it would help her and let her focus on things at home and just being a mom,” D’Asia recalled.

Notwithstanding the circumstances, the pair hit it off immediately.

“My mom was coaching me because we were new to Florida and it worked better to be an unattached athlete, but she really wanted to find me a good coach that was smart and had the experience to help me with different stages of life and track,” she said.

“I remember us talking about how he just showed up and helped us and was so nice. We went on the internet and social media and was like ‘oh wow, he was here and did this and that, so yeah, we prayed, and she picked him for long term coaching and he’s been a good fit ever since.

“He’s a good coach and he definitely knows what he’s talking about. He works me hard but not too hard.”

According to Marilyn, Brown has also exhibited the kind of exemplary qualities that makes him so much more than she could have ever imagined. More than just his coaching acumen, she found Brown to be of sound character as well.

“I knew Xavier was an adequate fit because despite having his own stripes of being an outstanding sprinter, a credible coach with an impressive resume, travelling and coaching around the world as well as training alongside some other outstanding Jamaican athletes, he was humble,” she said.

“Xavier came to us simply wanting to help. Generally, I would be reluctant because he came out of nowhere, but I remember praying for someone with good intentions, no ulterior motives and knowledge to come our way and then he popped up. It was one of those things where you just know. He wasn’t boastful, or egotistical trying to convince us of his importance. In fact, I only found out who he was after doing extensive research on him before asking him to join D’Asia’s team.

“He didn’t speak much, but when he did it was lots of knowledge and powerful.  I truly liked how careful he was with making sure we properly nurture D’Asia - not rushing the process in any way - amongst sharing reasonable and good goals and how to go about them in the future.”

Marilyn believes Brown is just what she and D’Asia needed at this stage of the latter’s budding career.

“So far, I mean he really puts good workouts together that cover many areas, which is hard to do as she is multi-eventer, hurdler, jumper,” she said.

“He makes sure the rest and recovery are there, he puts great stretches and drills together that are not only beneficial now, but for the future, keeps her mind strong and attention on her.

“Xavier truly thinks long term when it comes to her mental, spiritual, emotional and physical well-being which I know will prove to work out. In the time we’ve worked with him, he helped bring her to be a two-time National Junior Olympic winner and so far, she is right where we trained her to be for the early season.”

Meantime, D’Asia, who plans on one day becoming an Orthopedic surgeon and businesswoman, is focused on what is immediately before her, dominating her environment.

“D’Asia’s short term goals are to keep properly balancing and excelling with academics, athletics as well as her personal life. Within track and field, she hopes to keep dominating on a youth/high school level, defending national titles and hoping to break more school, meet, national or even world records all while having fun, staying mentally strong and injury-free,” said Marilyn.

“(Her) medium-term goals are to keep properly balancing while excelling in all areas of her life. She hopes to attend a prestigious college that will help her get closer to her long-term athletic goals and overall career.”

For Brown, the task, for now, is simple.

“My short-term goal for D’Asia is to get her stronger and faster and also mentally prepared for what is to come, day by day.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Promising young USA sprinter, Trayvon Bromell, has hailed the positive impact of Jamaican track icon Usain Bolt and compatriot Yohan Blake, particularly during the low point of his career.

The 25-year-old Bromell, who showed prodigious talent as a junior, suffered several injury setbacks early in his senior career.  The sprinter announced himself as one for the future after finishing third in the 100m at the 2015 Beijing World Championships.  Just a few years later, however, Bromell had gone through two ankle surgeries, the second putting him out of track and field for up to two years.  He then tore an adductor soon after his return in 2019.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which was held in 2021, was supposed to be a comeback year for the American sprinter.  After qualifying for the Olympics, however, he subsequently failed to make the final and was left despondent.  According to the American, Blake, who himself suffered career-threatening injuries during his time, was the first to reach out.

 “It’s been humbling and an honour for them to even support me and they’ve helped me through hard times. After the Games, Yohan came and sat down with me in Tokyo and told me how proud he was of my comeback,” Bromell told Essentially Sports.

The young runner has also received encouragement from Bolt and spoke glowingly of his strong connection to the duo.

“I’ve got a real strong connection with both Usain and Yohan,” said the US Sprinter. “I’ve talked to both of them during this process when I’ve been coming back.”

Jamaica's treble Tokyo Olympic Games gold medallist Elaine Thompson-Herah has been named the AIPS Best Female Athlete of 2021.

This follows a poll by the International Sports Press Association, where a panel of 529 journalists from 114 countries voted for the champions of 2021. Joining Thompson-Herah in receiving the top honour is Polish footballer Robert Lewandowski, who has been named the AIPS Best Male Athlete of 2021.

The former Manchester High School student, who was named the World Female Athlete of the Year at the World Athletics Awards 2021 earlier this month, retained her Olympic 100m and 200m titles in Tokyo and added a third gold medal in the 4x100m relay. She also ran world-leading times of 10.54 and 21.53 over 100m and 200m respectively, moving to second on the world all-time lists for each discipline.

She topped the AIPS poll with 605 points, ahead of Spanish footballer Alexia Putellas (490 points) and Venezuela's world triple jump record-holder and Olympic champion Yulimar Rojas (346 points).

Other athletics stars joining Thompson-Herah and Rojas in the top 10 are Kenya's Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon and Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, who claimed 5000m and 10,000m titles in Tokyo as well as 1500m bronze.

Joining Lewandowski in the top 10 for the men's award are Norway's Karsten Warholm, who was named the World Athletics Male Athlete of the Year, plus his fellow world record-holders and Olympic champions Mondo Duplantis of Sweden and Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya.

Thompson-Herah has also been named Athletics Weekly’s Female Athlete of the Year, NACAC Female Athlete of the Year and Diamond League Athletics’ Most Consistent Athlete in women’s sprints for 2021.

 

Cyclist Nicholas Paul and track and field athlete Michelle Lee Ahye walked away with the top male and female honours at the Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Committee 27th Annual Awards Ceremony held on Wednesday evening.

In the event, which was broadcast over video-conferencing platform Zoom, Paul and Ahye were named TTOC’s senior Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year respectively for 2021.

TTOC President Brian Lewis addressed the virtual audience before the distribution of awards.

“In 2021, our athletes showed that they faced their fears. They went to Tokyo and gave their best. They did not make excuses and of course, they showed emotional, physical, and mental stamina by facing their disappointments, their failures, their mistakes, and the criticism of those who weren’t in the arena; who didn’t have to overcome economic issues, lack of training issues, doubt issues, death in their families and close circles,” said Lewis.

“As we look forward to 2022, we are encouraged by the example and the discipline and resolve shown by team TTO at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the Junior Pan Am Games,” he added.

It was Ahye’s fourth time holding the title after winning from 2016-2018 while Paul received the award for the second time, his first coming back in 2019.

Paul, the current world-record holder in the Men’s flying 200m, earned the top male award based on his silver medal performance in the Men’s one-kilometre time-trial at the UCI Tissot World Track Cycling Championship in Roubaix, France, back in October.

He was also sixth in the Men’s Sprint at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Ahye was deemed the top female based on her ninth-place finish in the Women’s 100m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where she narrowly missed out on the final.

Swimmer Nikoli Blackman, a member of T&T’s teams at both the Pan Am Junior Games and Swimming World Championships (SC) this year, was named Junior Sportsman of the Year for the second consecutive year, and track and field athlete Rae-Anne Serville, now representing USC, was Junior Sportswoman of the Year.

Olympic long jump finalist and 2021 NCAA Heptathlon Champion at Texas A&M, Tyra Gittens, was named the Sports Personality of the Year and reacted to it on her Instagram page on Wednesday.

“Blessed to receive the Sports Personality award during the TTOC 27th Annual Award Ceremony this evening. I can’t wait to represent TTO again next year,” she said.

West Indies senior women’s vice-captain Anissa Mohammed won the Future is Female award.

 

Jamaican double-double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson-Herah was named by Diamond League Most Consistent Athlete in the women’s sprints for the 2021 season on Monday.

Thompson-Herah won four races on the Diamond League circuit for the year, in addition to her three gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics in July.

She ran times of 10.54 and 10.72 to win the 100m at the Eugene and Paris Diamond League meets on August 21st and August 28th, respectively, before winning the event at the Diamond League Final in Zurich in 10.65 on September 9th.

The former Manchester High School student also finished second in the 100m, at the Lausanne Diamond League, in 10.64 on August 26th.

Her only 200m win on the Diamond League circuit this year came in Gateshead where she ran 22.43 on July 13th.

The honour follows the trend of a trophy-filled festive period for the sprinter as she has already been named World Female Athlete of the Year by World Athletics, Athletics Weekly’s Female Athlete of the Year, and the NACAC Female Athlete of the Year in the month of December.

She is also widely favored to be named the RJR Sportswoman of the Year for 2021.

 

The local Track & Field community is in collective mourning after the passing of John Messam.

Messam passed away at 61 on Sunday after a long battle with illness.

The Calabar High School Old Boy was an IT professional, working as an Oracle Database Administrator at the Porth Authority for 22 years.

At the same time, Messam was a respected Track & Field coach, specializing in hurdles events.

A former Florida International University and Seton Hall University student, Messam was also the founder of Hurdles Crew Jamaica, an organization, which was created to enhance the lives of at-risk youth by allowing them to engage in voluntary work at Track & Field meets each year.

Messam was often the man to who Track & Field coaches would send their hurdlers when they needed someone to fix their technique.

Funeral arrangements will be made at a later date.

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