Front-loaded GB Rowing Team performance with final flourish
As it turned out, the GB Rowing Team front-loaded their finals day performance at the season’s second Samsung world rowing cup – although the men’s eight set the atmosphere alight again with an electric silver in the final race of the day.
Three golds came for the Siemens-sponsored team in the first session – from the men’s four, women’s double scull and women’s pair. The most dramatic of these was the men’s four who were involved in an eye-watering race to the line with Australia.
Once the burghers of Lucerne had lunched, though, the squad found the pattern hard to repeat
Alan Campbell was fourth in a top-drawer men’s single scull final, the women’s quad and eight were fifth, the men’s double sixth and the men’s eight ended it all on a high by pushing the German world champions to the very end.
But it stll felt better, perhaps, to reflect on the morning when the men’s four of Alex Gregory, Peter Reed, Tom James and Andrew Triggs Hodge took gold at the World Rowing Cup in a time of 5:50.84 in what looks like another in a series of big sporting clashes with Australia.
Even in that morning session, it was not all plain sailing for the British team, however, with Olympic and World Champions Zac Purchase clearly out of sorts to finish in sixth place.
“We said it would be tougher here and that’s been proven”, said GB Rowing Performance Director, David Tanner. “We have still had some outstanding performances and I’m really pleased with how it has gone. The golds in the women’s pair, men’s four and women’s double were all exciting. The lightweight men’s four was a tough final and the men’s eight gave us a good finish”.
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MORNING SESSION REPORTS
In the calm of a Swiss Sunday morning on smooth water and with the air still somewhat chilly, the British pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning made all the noise at the start of the women’s pair final.
By 500m they had a strong lead over the chasing Americans the World Champions from New Zealand, Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown. As the crews broke through the halfway point there was no change – except for the fact that the other three crews had dropped away from the leading trio.
With more than three seconds over the Kiwis and over a second on the Americans the British pair looked technically superb and strong at 1500m gone. As the roar went up from the Grandstands the British seemed to find yet another burst of power to fend off the American, rather than expected Antipodean challenge to win in 7:02.14.
“It was a really good race for us. Helen made some fantastic calls and that meant all I had to do was focus on what I was doing”, said Stanning afterwards.
Glover paid tribute to the GB support in Lucerne. “It makes such a difference. It’s a little taste of London to come”, she said. “Even on Thursday morning when our heat was at 9.30 in the morning they were here on the front row with the GB flags. It’s fantastic”.
In Belgrade three weeks ago the World Champions Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger of Great Britain had a tussle in the final 500m with the German duo Britta Oppelt and AnneKatrin Thiele. The combinations met in the heats here with the British winning.
A quarter-way through the final today the British duo had 0.8 of a second buffer over their nearest rivals. Both crews, though, would have been keeping an eye on Poland and the Czech Republic in the chasing pack.
Just before halfway Oppelt stole two swift glances across to the British crew. She would have seen that Watkins and Grainger had stretched out their lead but not hugely.
With just a quarter of the race to go, Watkins and Grainger still had the lead but now by some margin. Behind them Germany had been caught by Poland and the Czech Republic and the scene was set for the final surge which saw Grainger and Watkins unruffled and victorious in 6:52.52with Poland out-doing Germany to take silver.
“It’s good for us to have such strong opposition and I’m glad that the Germans and Poles are here and helping to push us on. It’s good for for the event”, said Watkins.
“We new a couple of the crews had really good finishes so we were determined to get into control”, said Grainger.
Sport is peppered by great rivalries between Britain and Australia and it looks as if the battle for Olympic honours in the men’s four in 2012 might be another one in the sequence.
Today the Australian men’s four, including three-times Olympic champion, Drew Ginn, decided to lay down the gauntlet early in the Lucerne final. By 500m they had a half-length lead over the British boat containing Andrew Triggs Hodge, Tom James, Peter Reed and Alex Gregory.
To be honest, by the halfway point, the roles remained the same and Australia must have scented victory. Hearts were in British mouths on the banks of the Rotsee and pulse rates were high.
With a superb display of strength and power the GB quartet upped their game and overhauled the Australians in the final 20 strokes to take the win in 5:50.84 from 5:51.98 for Australia’s silver. Greece were third in 5:56.61.
“We knew that they were going to be quick. It was just a case of hanging on and then producing a really powerful sprint”, said Alex Gregory.
“Andrew Triggs Hodge added: “It was a really solid race for us. It’s a step up from Belgrade and a great move along the way. There’s more to come”.
Tom James added: “You are aware of what’s going on but we just focused on what we were doing and I wasn’t worried – just wanted to get our race together. Always thought we could get there – felt confident in what we were doing”.
Peter Reed said: “We had a feeling before the race that they would try to do something special . That’s the way they raced in Bled last year and in the Olympic final as well. That race reminded me a lot of the Olympic final from Beijing. The Australian boat is always very classy but moving past them in the last 500 is something we hadn’t seen from our crew yet and that can be massively improved. An exciting race and good for the event – really pleased to get one up”.
George Nash and Will Satch knew they had a race on their hands from the outset of their men’s pair. Silver medallists in Belgrade three weeks ago they were aware that the arrival of strong pairs from Canada and New Zealand would make a difference to their still fledgling world cup participation.
At the 500m mark the new British no.1 pair this season were sixth. At the halfway they’d moved up a place in a field that was still tightly packed. Canada, early leaders, were overtaken by New Zealand just after the halfway point and GB had moved up to fourth.
In the final sprint the Greek Gkountoulas brothers had kept enough in the tank to hold onto bronze behind the all-conquering New Zealanders and silver medallists Canada and Germany, winners in Belgrade, just edged the British boat into fifth in 6:31.60.
Nash said: “It’s been another learning curve – the result was probably not as good as Belgrade as we got beaten by the Greeks and the Germans but the whole Olympic field was here apart from France (who came through Olympic qualifying regatta) so it was a much more realistic practice for the Olympics than Belgrade. So in that sense it was a step on mentally to deal with it.
The lightweight men’s double of Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase are Olympic and World Champions. They have not had the best of regattas here. Through the heats and an extremely hard-fought semi-final they did not look in sparkling form and the final suggested that they had not been simply conserving energy.
Clearly out of sorts they were at the back of the field throughout – albeit a closely contested field from which France emerged to take victory in 6:22.78 and Canada, the early leaders, were overhauled by New Zealand who took silver and Denmark in bronze.
“It is good that this has happened here and now because we can kind of go back to the drawing board and make sure we are looking after ourselves a bit more and we have enough time to get things right”, said Hunter.
Sophie Hosking and Kat Copeland in the lightweight women’s double scull also finished outside the medals but were in close contention to the end before finishing fifth in 7:07.54. The race was won by China who established themselves early at the front of the field with New Zealand and the USA taking on the mantle of the “chasers”.
New Zealand’s Louise Ayling and Julia Edward came within a whisker of stealing the show on the line before taking silver just two tenths behind Xu and Huang of China. Greece, the World Champions, came through from sixth to third in the final with a superb sprint to overhaul the Americans. Denmark were sixth.
“Across the world cups it’s interesting to see how people’s speed varies depending on what training they are doing. We know that we have work to do before London but we have faith that every day we are doing the right things to put ourselves in the best possible position come the Olympic Games”, said Hosking.
AFTERNOON SESSION REPORTS
Unbeaten since 2009 the scene was set for World Champions Germany and Olympic Champions Canada to go head-to-head, based on semi-final performances here.
GB, the World Silver medallists in 2010 and 2011, were hoping to get in the mix but had not had the easiest of routes to the final here, having to make use of the repechage.
In the opening 500m it was indeed the British combination of Greg Searle, Alex Partridge, Marcus Bateman, Tom Ransley, Moe Sbihi, Ric Egington, Matt Langridge, James Foad and cox Phelan Hill, which was second only to the green-hulled German “machine”.
That’s the way it stayed as the crews slugged it out stroke for stroke through a lung-bursting halfway and 1500m marker points with Canada always menacing behind and all the crews aware of Poland’s potential to burst through at the end.
If Germany held onto their crown it probably had the fog of British breath on its sheen because the GB crew held on and on and were strong even at the finish in taking silver in 5:28.64 to Germany’s 5:27.47. Canada were third in 5:29.62.
“It was good to be that close the Germans and very exciting but we all know we still have more to find. This crew is moving on every time we race”, said veteran Greg Searle who this weekend raced in the bow seat of a combination stroked by James Foad and coxed by Phelan Hill and featuring a host of world and Olympic medallists of the ilk of Matt Langridge, Ric Egington and Alex Partridge.
Tom Ransley: “There are still things we can do better but we have learnt things we can take home and work on. To beat everyone apart from Germany is a solid performance and we know what direction we need to go so a lot of positives.”
James Foad: “Plan was to get out with the field and either lead it or be well in the race after 500m and then settle in to a nice strong rhythm. We have some powerful guys in the boat and when they are all working together you can really feel it – it feels quite overwhelming the amount of power we have and that worked well today whereas yesterday it kind of tailed off in the 3rd 500. I think we tried to overdo it a little bit in the last 300 – we were on a reasonably high rate and it felt as if we were moving through the Germans and by overdoing it we slowed the rate down if anything .
“We know what we can do in training so it is a case of getting it right on the day which we haven’t done this weekend – although we got most of it right today.”
Today either China or Denmark looked set to pose the main threat. At the end it was clear that South Africa were not to be underestimated either.
At the beginning, though, it was the British combination that stepped on the gas and connected and strong in bobbly conditions to take a first half lead. Behind them the Chinese and French looked most threatening in a pack that was still at close quarters.
China put in a big push just before 1500m to take the lead with GB 0.8 seconds down. Then South Africans then sprung their surprise to come through strongly. That’s where the top two places went with China’s victory coming in 5:53.10. With the Danes clattering down the final 150m at speed, the British crew made sure of bronze by holding on strongly in 5:54.96.
“I thought we put in a really good first 1500m to be in contention. I would rather that we were there than sprinting from nowhere to take bronze”, said Williams.
A clearly disappointed Mattick, twice a previous winner here who is a replacement for the injured Peter Chambers, said: “We did what we could but having only ten days together meant that we were improvising in the second half”.
Chris Bartley: “We had a pretty good race – had a good start although not quite as good as yesterday. Pretty decent to the 1000m and just couldn’t quite hold on to the lead but we did what we said we would do in the first 1k so that was good. Always a very hard race – I’m in a bit of a better state this time than I was after Belgrade- suffered quite a lot there but I feel a little bit better now than I did then so that’s a good thing.”
Richard Chambers: “We came here to try something different and we’ve come away achieving what we set out to do; we’ve realised what works and what doesn’t work and now we just have to work on that in the next couple of weeks. Obviously it’s disappointing to come away with the bronze but it was good to beat the Danes who beat us last week. The Chinese and South Africans have beaten us now so it gives us something to fight for and we’re in a good place.”
The men’s single scull final today was packed brimful with all the world’s top names – names that have done battle with each other time and again over recent years.
It’s testament to his consistency that Alan Campbell is always in the mix and capable of winning a medal. He also likes to race from the front. So no-one was surprised when he led the field at 500m gone by just under two tenths from Czech Republic’s 2010 World Champion, Ondrej Synek.
By halfway Synek had just edged ahead – “edge” being the operative word as his lead was slim over Campbell with New Zealand’s five-times World Champion Mahe Drysdale tracking them in third.
As Campbell appeared to pay for his earlier effort, Drysdale moved into the lead and Angel Fourrier Rodriguez of Cuba moved through into third. Once again, though, it was the master tactician Synek who proved to have the best “race-head” as well as physical fitness. He moved through in the final 15 strokes to take gold from Drysdale and Rodriguez. Campbell was fourth in 6:52.07.
“I’m hugely disappointed to be truthful. I thought I was better than that. I didn’t have the legs in the second half. Physcially I wasn’t able to push on like I did in Belgrade and I’m really not sure why. Yesterday I felt good and confident and going forward. Today It just felt busy in the race, there was a lot going and it wasn’t as comfortable”, said Campbell.
On the Grandstand side of the course the British men’s double of Sam Townsend and Bill Lucas, both graduates of the lottery-backed and Siemens-sponsored Start talent identification and development programme, have already cut a dash this season after being in last year’s quad. They were silver medallists in the world cup three weeks ago but in a thinner field than here.
In the final today they found the pace hot in the first half and then searched for the kind of speed, after recent heavy sets of training, that would get them back into contention. Detached from the top three but not outclassed the British duo came home sixth.
At the head of the field an exciting race was developing between the Germans, gold medallists in Belgrade, and the Olympic champions from Australia. Germany paced their race finish well to win in 6:14.76 – just under a second ahead of Australia.
There was a sensational finish to the women’s eight final on the Rotsee this afternoon under muggy skies when the USA, the Olympic and World Champions, had to put their full fire-power out to play to hold off a fast-finishing Canadian crew who fell short by an agonising two-hundredths of a second from causing an upset in the fight for gold. Holland took bronze.
For Britain, whose crew has had a number of disruptions due to injury in the past few weeks, it will be a time to reflect on the learning that can be drawn from a race in which they were largely fifth throughout but who were within fractions of a second of taking fourth away from Australia.
The Dutch set the early pace but were soon caught by the USA with Canada biding their time in second throughout until they launched their final offensive. A good second 500m saw the GB boat draw almost level with Australia in the battle for fourth and fifth. Nothing much separated those two crews with 500m to go but Australia just had the edge – by seven hundreths – to hold on at the end.
Cameron Nichol and Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell demonstrated the strength in depth of the GB men’s squad by winning the men’s pair B Final early in the morning session in a time of 6:39.66 after leading throughout. Olivia Carnegie Brown and Jo Cook were a close third in their equivalent final won by China.
At the halfway stage of the B Final of the men’s quadruple scull the British quartet of Stephen Rowbotham, Charles Cousins, Tom Solesbury and Matthew Wells were heading the Australian world champions in a fairly tight battle including Ukraine and the host nation – the latter being urged on by the traditional sound of cow bells.
Racing past the crowds the Britihs crew held on from the fast-finishing Ukraine to win in 5:51.22 with the Ukraine taking bronze.
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RESULTS – MORNING SESSION
1 Helen Glover/Heather Stanning (GREAT BRITAIN) 7:02.14
2 Erin Cafaro/Eleanor Logan (USA 1) 7:04.09
3 Juliette Haigh/Rebecca Scowen (New Zealand) 7:05.98
4 Sarah Tait/Kate Hornsey (Australia 1) 7:17.88
5 Maria Laura Abalo/Gabriela Best (Argentina) 7:19.74
6 Naydene Smith/Lee-Ann Persse (South Africa) 7:20.22
1 Anna Watkins/Katherine Grainger (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:52.52
2 Magdalena Fularczyk/Julia Michalska (Poland) 6:55.00
3 Britta Oppelt/Annekatrin Thiele (Germany 1) 6:55.42
4 Lenka Antosova/Jitka Antosova (Czech Republic) 6:56.92
5 Fiona Paterson/Anna Reymer (New Zealand 1) 7:00.45
6 Yan Jiang/Li Rong (China 2) 7:03.34
1 Eric Murray/Hamish Bond (New Zealand) 6:24.04
2 Dave Calder/Scott Frandsen (Canada 1) 6:26.77
3 Nikolaos Gkountoulas/Apostolos Gkountoulas (Greece 1) 6:30.04
4 Anton Braun/Felix Drahotta (Germany) 6:30.79
5 George Nssh/William Satch (GREAT BRITAIN 1) 6:31.60
6 Niccolo Mornati/Lorenzo Carboncini (Italy) 6:35.86
1 Dongxiang Xu/Wenyi Huang (China 1) 7:04.14
2 Louise Ayling/Julia Edward (New Zealand) 7:04.39
3 Christina Giazitzidou/Alexandra Tsiavou (Greece) 7:04.79
4 Kristin Hedstrom/Julie Nichols (USA) 7:07.45
5 Sophie Hosking/Katherine Copeland (GREAT BRITAIN) 7:07.54
6 Anne Lolk Thomsen/Juliane Rasmussen (Denmark) 7:08.01
1 Stany Delayre/Jeremie Azou (France) 6:22.78
2 Storm Uru/Peter Taylor (New Zealand) 6:24.32
3 Mads Rasmussen/Rasmus Quist (Denmark) 6:24.97
4 Douglas Vandor/Morgan Jarvis (Canada) 6:25.18
5 Linus Lichtschlag/Lars Hartig (Germany) 6:28.67
6 Zac Purchase/Mark Hunter (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:32.03
1 Yage Zhang/Yulan Gao (China 1) 7:22.27
2 Carolyn Ganes/Larissa Lagzdins (Canada 1) 7:23.31
3 Jo Cook/Olivia Carnegie-Brown (GREAT BRITAIN) 7:24.03
4 Claudia Wurzel/Sara Bertolasi (Italy) 7:30.09
5 Lisa Kemmerer/Anne-Sophie Agarius (Germany) 7:32.86
6 You Wu/Xiaoxia Yan (China 2) 7:48.30
1 Nathaniel Reilly-O’Donnell/Cameron Nichol (GREAT BRITAIN 2) 6:39.66
2 James Marburg/Brodie Buckland (Australia 1) 6:41.64
3 Nanne Sluis/Meindert Klem (Netherlands) 6:41.85
4 Spencer Crowley/Will Dean (Canada 2) 6:43.39
5 Joaquin Iwan/Diego Lopez (Argentina) 6:44.90
6 Konstantinos Christomanos/Apostolos Lampridis (Greece 2) 6:50.97
1 Stephen Rowbotham/Tom Solesbury/Matthew Wells/Charles Cousins (GREAT BRITAIN) 5:51.22
2 Ukraine 5:51.86
3 Australia 5:51.99
4 Switzerland 5:52.61
RESULTS – AFTERNOON SESSION
1 USA 5:59.26
2 Canada 5:59.29
3 Netherlands 6:03.20
4 Australia 6:06.79
5 Olivia Whitlam/Debbie Flood/Emily Taylor/Jessica Eddie/Louisa Reeve/Natasha Page/Katie Greves/Annabel Vernon/Caroline O’Connor (cox) (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:06.86
6 Germany 6:16.03
1 Ukraine 6:15.37
2 Germany 1 6:19.40
3 USA 1 6:21.45
4 New Zealand 6:22.71
5 Beth Rodford/Melanie Wilson/Frances Houghton/Victoria Thornley (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:23.73
6 Australia 6:25.67
1 Germany 5:27.47
2 Greg Searle/Alex Partridge/Marcus Bateman/Tom Ransley/Mohamed Sbihi/Richard Egington/Matt Langridge/James Foad/Phelan Hill (cox) (GREAT BRITAIN) 5:28.64
3 Canada 5:29.62
4 Netherlands 5:31.45
5 Poland 5:31.58
6 Australia 5:34.42
1 Ondrej Synek (Czech Republic) 6:44.54
2 Mahe Drysdale (New Zealand) 6:45.06
3 Angel Fournier Rodriguez (Cuba) 6:49.56
4 Alan Campbell (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:52.07
5 Marcel Hacker (Germany 1) 6:54.81
6 Liang Zhang (China) 7:07.50
1 Eric Knittel/Stephan Krueger (Germany) 6:14.76
3 Cedric Berrest/Julien Bahain (France) 6:15.74
2 David Crawshay/Scott Brennan (Australia 1) 6:15.66
4 Luka Spik/Iztok Cop (Slovenia) 6:16.33
5 Saulius Ritter/Rolandas Mascinskas (Lithuania) 6:18.87
6 Bill Lucas/Sam Townsend (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:19.45
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GB ROWING TEAM CREWS LIST
(See home-towns, clubs and dates of birth in list below. Named here in crews bow to stroke unless indicated. (Coach in brackets).
SAMSUNG WORLD ROWING CUP II
Lucerne, Switzerland 25-27 May, 2012
Pair – two boats
Jo Cook/Olivia Carnegie Brown
Single scull – Olympic qualifying regatta only
Rachel Gamble Flint
Pair – two boats
Single scull – two boats
Bill Lucas/Sam Townsend
Stephen Rowbotham /Tom Solesbury/Matt Wells/Charles Cousins
Double scull – two boats
(Rob Morgan & Darren Whiter)
Zac Purchase/Mark Hunter
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HOME TOWN LISTS
PAIR (Boat 2)
Jo Cook Leander Club Sunbury-on-Thames 22/03/84
Olivia Carnegie-Brown Oxford Brookes Univ BC Oxford 28/03/1991
Olivia Whitlam Agecroft RC Warrington 16/09/85
Debbie Flood Leander Club Guiseley, W Yorks 27/02/1980
Emily Taylor Leander Club Lincoln 28/06/87
Jessica Eddie Univ of London BC Durham 07/10/84
Louisa Reeve Leander Club London 16/05/84
Natasha Page Gloucester RC Hartpury 30/04/85
Katie Greves Leander Club Oxford 02/09/82
Annabel Vernon Leander Club Wadebridge 01/09/82
Caroline O’Connor (cox) Oxford Brookes Univ BC Ealing, London 25/04/83
Coach: Nick Strange
Single Scull – Olympic qualifying Regatta only
Rachel Gamble-Flint Leander Club Darlington 13/09/91
Coach: Jane Hall
Beth Rodford Gloucester RC Gloucester 28/12/82
Melanie Wilson Imperial College BC London 25/06/84
Frances Houghton Leander Club Oxford 19/09/80
Victoria Thornley Leander Club Wrexham 30/11/87
Coach: Ade Roberts
Pair (Boat 2)
Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell Uni of London BC Durham 13/04/88
Cameron Nichol Molesey BC Glastonbury 26/06/87
Alex Gregory Leander Club Wormington 11/03/84
Pete Reed Leander Club Nailsworth, Glos 27/07/81
Tom James Molesey BC Wrexham 11/03/84
Andrew Triggs Hodge Molesey BC Hebden, N. Yorks 03/03/79
Coach: Jürgen Grobler
Greg Searle Molesey BC Marlow 20/03/72
Alex Partridge Leander Club Alton, Hants 25/01/81
Marcus Bateman Leander Club Torquay 16/09/1982
Tom Ransley York City RC Cambridge 06/09/85
Mohamed Sbihi Molesey BC Surbiton 27/03/88
Richard Egington Leander Club Knutsford 26/02/79
Matthew Langridge Leander Club Northwich 20/05/83
James Foad Molesey BC Southampton 20/03/87
Cox – Phelan Hill Leander Bedford 21/07/79
Coaches: John West & Christian Felkel
Single Scull (Boat 1)
Alan Campbell Tideway Scullers School Coleraine 09/05/83
Coach: Bill Barry
Bill Lucas London RC Kingswear 13/09/87
Sam Townsend Reading Univ BC Reading 26/11/85
Coach: Mark Earnshaw
Stephen Rowbotham Leander Club Winscombe, Somerset 11/11/81
Matthew Wells Leander Club Hexham, Northumberland 19/04/79
Tom Solesbury Leander Club Petts Wood, Kent 23/09/80
Charles Cousins Reading Univ BC Willingham, Cambs 13/12/88
Coach: Mark Banks
Kathryn Twyman Wallingford RC Oxford 29/03/87
Coach: Paul Reedy
Adam Freeman-Pask Imperial College BC Windsor 19/06/85
Coaches: Rob Morgan & Darren Whiter
Paul Mattick Leander Club Frome, Somerset 25/04/78
Rob Williams London RC Maidenhead 21/01/85
Richard Chambers Leander Club Coleraine 10/06/85
Chris Bartley Leander Club Chester 02/02/84
Coach: Rob Morgan
Zac Purchase Marlow RC Tewkesbury 02/05/86
Mark Hunter Leander Club Romford, Essex 01/07/78
Coach: Darren Whiter
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BBC COVERAGE FROM LUCERNE
Lucerne, Switzerland, 25-27 May (all time – UK Times)
• Red Button – Sunday 27 May, 0920-1045 & 1200-1355
• BBC2 – Sunday 27, May 1800-1900
BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra will also be providing coverage during the three rowing World Cup regattas with double Olympic Gold medallist James Cracknell forming part of the commentary team
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