400 metres hurdles

400 metres hurdles

Women's 400m hurdles.
Men's records
World United States Kevin Young 46.78 (1992)
Olympic United States Kevin Young 46.78 (1992)
Women's records
World Russia Yuliya Pechonkina 52.34 (2003)
Olympic Jamaica Melaine Walker 52.64 (2008)

The 400 metres hurdles is a track and field hurdling event. The event has been on the Olympic athletics programme since 1900 for men and since 1984 for women.

On a standard outdoor track, 400 metres is the length of the inside lane once around the stadium. Runners stay in their lanes the entire way after starting out of the blocks and must clear ten hurdles that are evenly spaced around the track. The hurdles are positioned and weighted so that they fall forward if bumped into with sufficient force, to prevent injury to the runners. Although there is no longer any penalty for knocking hurdles over, runners prefer to clear them cleanly, as touching them during the race slows runners down.

The best male athletes can run the 400 m hurdles in a time of around 47 seconds, while the best female athletes achieve a time of around 53 seconds. The current men's and women's world record holders are Kevin Young with 46.78 seconds and Yuliya Pechonkina with 52.34 seconds. Compared to the 400 metres run, the hurdles race takes the men about three seconds longer and the women four seconds longer.

The 400 m hurdles was held for both sexes at the inaugural IAAF World Championships in Athletics. The first championship for women came at the 1980 World Championships in Athletics – being held as a one-off due to the lack of a race at the 1980 Summer Olympics.


The first awards in a 400 m hurdles race were given in 1860 when a race was held in Oxford, England, over a course of 440 yards (402.336 m). While running the course, participants had to clear twelve wooden hurdles, over 100 centimetres tall, that had been spaced in even intervals.

To reduce the risk of injury, somewhat more lightweight constructions were introduced in 1895 that runners could push over. However, until 1935 runners were disqualified if they pushed over more than three hurdles in a race and records were only officially accepted if the runner in question had cleared all hurdles clean and left them all standing.

The 400 m hurdles became an Olympic event at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. At the same time, the race was standardized so that virtually identical races could be held and the finish times compared to each other. As a result, the official distance was fixed to 400 metres, or one lap of the stadium, and the number of hurdles was reduced to ten. The official height of the hurdles was set to 91.4 cm (3 feet) for men and 76.20 cm (2 ft, 6 inches) for women. The hurdles were now placed on the course with a run-up to the first hurdle of 45 metres, a distance between the hurdles of 35 metres each, and a home stretch from the last hurdle to the finish line of 40 metres.

The first documented 400 m hurdles race for women took place in 1971. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) introduced the event officially as a discipline in 1974, although it was not run at the Olympics until 1984, the first Men's World Champion having been crowned the year before at the inaugural IAAF World Championships in Athletics. A special edition of the Women's 400m Hurdles happened in the 1980 IAAF World Championships in Athletics in response to the Women's 400m Hurdles not being included in the boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympics and the Liberty Bell Classic.

Many athletic commentators and officials have often brought up the idea of lifting the height of the women's 400 m hurdles to incorporate a greater requirement of hurdling skill. This is a view held by German athletic coach Norbert Stein: "All this means that the women's hurdles for specialists, who are the target group to be dealt with in this discussion, is considerably depreciated in skill demands when compared to the men's hurdles. It should not be possible in the women's hurdles that the winner is an athlete whose performance in the flat sprint is demonstrably excellent but whose technique of hurdling is only moderate and whose anthropometric characteristics are not optimal. This was the case at the World Championships in Seville and the same problem can often be seen at international and national meetings."

Hurdling technique

"The 400m hurdle race one of the most demanding of all events in the sprint-hurdle group." (Lindeman) It requires speed, endurance, and hurdling technique all along with unique awareness and special concentration throughout the race.

Block start

When preparing to hurdle, the blocks should be set so that the athlete arrives at the first hurdle leading on the desired leg without inserting a stutter step. A stutter step is when the runner has to chop his or her stride down to arrive on the "correct" leg for take off. Throughout the race, any adjustments to stride length stride speed should be made several strides out from the hurdle because a stutter or being too far from the hurdle at take off will result in loss of momentum and speed.


At the beginning of the take-off, the knee must be driven toward the hurdle and the foot then extended. The knee should be slightly bent when crossing the hurdle. Unless an athlete’s body has great flexibility, the knee must be slightly bent to allow a forward body lean. Unlike the 110m hurdles, a significant forward body lean is not that necessary due to the hurdles being lower. However, the trail leg must be kept bent and short to provide a quick lever action allowing a fast hurdle clearance. The knee should pull through under the armpit and should not be flat across the top of the hurdle.

It is also important that the hurdler doesn’t reach out on the last stride before the hurdle as this will result in a longer bound being made to clear the hurdle. This will also result in a loss of momentum if the foot lands well in front of the center of gravity.

Stride length

Using a left lead leg on the bends allows the hurdler to run closer to the inside of the lane and cover a shorter distance. Additionally, if the left leg is used for the lead, then the athlete's upper body can be leaned to the left, making it easier to bring the trail leg through. Additionally, an athlete hurdling with a right leg lead around the bends must take care that they do not inadvertently trail their foot or toe around the hurdle rather than passing over the top, which would lead to a disqualification from the race. Depending on the height and strength of the athlete, men work toward a stride pattern of 13 to 15 steps between each hurdle, and women work toward a stride pattern of 15 to 17. This does not include the landing step from the previous hurdle. Weaker athletes will typically hold a longer step pattern throughout the race so that they do not bound or reach with each step, which also results in a loss of speed. These patterns are ideal because it allows the hurdler to take off from their predominant leg throughout the race without switching legs. However, fatigue from the race will knock athletes of their stride pattern and force runners to switch legs. At an early age, many coaches train their athletes to hurdle with both legs. This is a useful skill to learn since as a runner tires, their stride length may decrease, resulting in the need either to add a stutter stride, or to take a hurdle on the other leg. The 400 metre hurdles is a very physically demanding race. It requires intense training to get the endurance, speed and technique needed to compete.


All-time top 25 men

As of July 2016[1]

Pos Time Athlete Country Venue Date
1. 46.78 Kevin Young  United States Barcelona 6 August 1992
2. 47.02 Edwin Moses  United States Koblenz 31 August 1983
3. 47.03 Bryan Bronson  United States New Orleans 21 June 1998
4. 47.10 Samuel Matete  Zambia Zürich 7 August 1991
5. 47.19 Andre Phillips  United States Seoul 25 September 1988
6. 47.23 Amadou Dia Ba  Senegal Seoul 25 September 1988
7. 47.24 Kerron Clement  United States Carson, California 26 June 2005
8. 47.25 Félix Sánchez  Dominican Republic Paris, Saint-Denis 29 August 2003
Angelo Taylor  United States Beijing 18 August 2008
10. 47.30 Bershawn Jackson  United States Helsinki 9 August 2005
11. 47.37 Stéphane Diagana  France Lausanne 5 July 1995
12. 47.38 Danny Harris  United States Lausanne 10 July 1991
13. 47.43 James Carter  United States Helsinki 9 August 2005
14. 47.48 Harald Schmid  West Germany Athens 8 September 1982
15. 47.53 Hadi Soua'an Al-Somaily  Saudi Arabia Sydney 27 September 2000
16. 47.54 Derrick Adkins  United States Lausanne 5 July 1995
Fabrizio Mori  Italy Edmonton 10 August 2001
18. 47.60 Winthrop Graham  Jamaica Zürich 4 August 1993
19. 47.63 Johnny Dutch  United States Des Moines 26 June 2010
20. 47.66 L. J. van Zyl  South Africa Pretoria 25 February 2011
21. 47.67 Bennie Brazell  United States Sacramento 11 June 2005
22. 47.69 Jehue Gordon  Trinidad and Tobago Moscow 15 August 2013
23. 47.70 Michael Tinsley  United States Moscow 15 August 2013
24. 47.72 Javier Culson  Puerto Rico Ponce, PR 8 May 2010
25. 47.75 David Patrick  United States Indianapolis 17 July 1988


Below is a list of all other times superior to 47.35.

All-time top 25 women

As of July 2016[2]

Rank Time Athlete Nation Date Place Ref
1. 52.34 Yuliya Pechonkina  Russia 8 August 2003 Tula
2. 52.42 Melaine Walker  Jamaica 20 August 2009 Berlin
3. 52.47 Lashinda Demus  United States 1 September 2011 Daegu
4. 52.61 Kim Batten  United States 11 August 1995 Gothenburg
5. 52.62 Tonja Buford-Bailey  United States 11 August 1995 Gothenburg
6. 52.70 Natalya Antyukh  Russia 8 August 2012 London [3]
7. 52.74 Sally Gunnell  Great Britain 19 August 1993 Stuttgart
8. 52.77 Fani Halkia  Greece 22 August 2004 Athens
9. 52.79 Sandra Farmer-Patrick  United States 19 August 1993 Stuttgart
Kaliese Spencer  Jamaica 5 August 2011 London
11. 52.82 Deon Hemmings  Jamaica 31 July 1996 Atlanta
12. 52.83 Zuzana Hejnová  Czech Republic 15 August 2013 Moscow
13. 52.88 Dalilah Muhammad  United States 10 July 2016 Eugene [4]
14. 52.89 Daimí Pernía  Cuba 25 August 1999 Seville
15. 52.90 Nezha Bidouane  Morocco 25 August 1999 Seville
16. 52.94 Marina Stepanova  Soviet Union 17 September 1986 Tashkent
17. 52.95 Sheena Johnson  United States 11 July 2004 Sacramento
18. 53.02 Irina Privalova  Russia 27 September 2000 Sydney
19. 53.11 Tatyana Ledovskaya  Soviet Union 29 August 1991 Tokyo
20. 53.17 Debbie Flintoff-King  Australia 28 September 1988 Seoul
21. 53.20 Josanne Lucas  Trinidad and Tobago 20 August 2009 Berlin
22. 53.21 Marie-José Pérec  France 16 August 1995 Zürich
Kori Carter  United States 7 June 2013 Eugene [5]
24. 53.22 Jana Rawlinson  Australia 28 August 2003 Paris Saint-Denis
25. 53.24 Sabine Busch  East Germany 21 August 1987 Potsdam


Below is a list of all other times superior to 52.80.


Most successful athletes

American athlete Glenn Davis had a prodigious start to his hurdling career, running his first race in April 1956 in 54.4 s. Two months later, he ran a new world record with 49.5 s and later that year he won the 400 m hurdles at the Olympics, and was also the first to repeat that feat in 1960.

In terms of success and longevity in competition, Edwin Moses' record is significant: he won 122 races in a row between 1977 and 1987 plus two gold medals, at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montréal and the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He was undefeated for exactly nine years nine months and nine days, from 26 August 1977 until 4 June 1987. The U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow prevented him from winning a hat-trick of gold medals, but his career is nonetheless widely regarded as one of the most successful in hurdling. He finished third in the 1988 Olympic final, the last race in his professional career. He also held the world record for sixteen years from when he first broke it at the Olympics on 25 July 1976 (twice in one day) until it was finally broken by Kevin Young at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Olympic medalists


Games Gold Silver Bronze
1900 Paris
 Walter Tewksbury (USA)  Henri Tauzin (FRA)  George Orton (CAN)
1904 St. Louis
 Harry Hillman (USA)  Frank Waller (USA)  George Poage (USA)
1908 London
 Charles Bacon (USA)  Harry Hillman (USA)  Jimmy Tremeer (GBR)
1912 Stockholmnot included in the Olympic program
1920 Antwerp
 Frank Loomis (USA)  John Norton (USA)  August Desch (USA)
1924 Paris
 Morgan Taylor (USA)  Erik Wilén (FIN)  Ivan Riley (USA)
1928 Amsterdam
 David Burghley (GBR)  Frank Cuhel (USA)  Morgan Taylor (USA)
1932 Los Angeles
 Bob Tisdall (IRL)  Glenn Hardin (USA)  Morgan Taylor (USA)
1936 Berlin
 Glenn Hardin (USA)  John Loaring (CAN)  Miguel White (PHI)
1948 London
 Roy Cochran (USA)  Duncan White (CEY)  Rune Larsson (SWE)
1952 Helsinki
 Charles Moore (USA)  Yuriy Lituyev (URS)  John Holland (NZL)
1956 Melbourne
 Glenn Davis (USA)  Eddie Southern (USA)  Josh Culbreath (USA)
1960 Rome
 Glenn Davis (USA)  Clifton Cushman (USA)  Dick Howard (USA)
1964 Tokyo
 Rex Cawley (USA)  John Cooper (GBR)  Salvatore Morale (ITA)
1968 Mexico City
 David Hemery (GBR)  Gerhard Hennige (FRG)  John Sherwood (GBR)
1972 Munich
 John Akii-Bua (UGA)  Ralph Mann (USA)  David Hemery (GBR)
1976 Montreal
 Edwin Moses (USA)  Michael Shine (USA)  Yevgeniy Gavrilenko (URS)
1980 Moscow
 Volker Beck (GDR)  Vasyl Arkhypenko (URS)  Gary Oakes (GBR)
1984 Los Angeles
 Edwin Moses (USA)  Danny Harris (USA)  Harald Schmid (FRG)
1988 Seoul
 André Phillips (USA)  Amadou Dia Ba (SEN)  Edwin Moses (USA)
1992 Barcelona
 Kevin Young (USA)  Winthrop Graham (JAM)  Kriss Akabusi (GBR)
1996 Atlanta
 Derrick Adkins (USA)  Samuel Matete (ZAM)  Calvin Davis (USA)
2000 Sydney
 Angelo Taylor (USA)  Hadi Al-Somaily (KSA)  Llewellyn Herbert (RSA)
2004 Athens
 Félix Sánchez (DOM)  Danny McFarlane (JAM)  Naman Keïta (FRA)
2008 Beijing
 Angelo Taylor (USA)  Kerron Clement (USA)  Bershawn Jackson (USA)
2012 London
 Félix Sánchez (DOM)  Michael Tinsley (USA)  Javier Culson (PUR)
2016 Rio de Janeiro
 Kerron Clement (USA)  Boniface Mucheru Tumuti (KEN)  Yasmani Copello (TUR)


Games Gold Silver Bronze
1984 Los Angeles
 Nawal El Moutawakel (MAR)  Judi Brown (USA)  Cristieana Cojocaru (ROU)
1988 Seoul
 Debbie Flintoff-King (AUS)  Tatyana Ledovskaya (URS)  Ellen Fiedler (GDR)
1992 Barcelona
 Sally Gunnell (GBR)  Sandra Farmer-Patrick (USA)  Janeene Vickers (USA)
1996 Atlanta
 Deon Hemmings (JAM)  Kim Batten (USA)  Tonja Buford-Bailey (USA)
2000 Sydney
 Irina Privalova (RUS)  Deon Hemmings (JAM)  Nezha Bidouane (MAR)
2004 Athens
 Fani Halkia (GRE)  Ionela Târlea-Manolache (ROU)  Tetyana Tereshchuk-Antipova (UKR)
2008 Beijing
 Melaine Walker (JAM)  Sheena Tosta (USA)  Tasha Danvers (GBR)
2012 London
 Natalya Antyukh (RUS)  Lashinda Demus (USA)  Zuzana Hejnová (CZE)
2016 Rio de Janeiro
 Dalilah Muhammad (USA)  Sara Petersen (DEN)  Ashley Spencer (USA)

World Championships medalists


Year Gold Silver Bronze
1983  Edwin Moses (USA)  Harald Schmid (FRG)  Aleksandr Kharlov (URS)
1987  Edwin Moses (USA)  Danny Harris (USA)  Harald Schmid (FRG)
1991  Samuel Matete (ZAM)  Winthrop Graham (JAM)  Kriss Akabusi (GBR)
1993  Kevin Young (USA)  Samuel Matete (ZAM)  Winthrop Graham (JAM)
1995  Derrick Adkins (USA)  Samuel Matete (ZAM)  Stéphane Diagana (FRA)
1997  Stéphane Diagana (FRA)  Llewellyn Herbert (RSA)  Bryan Bronson (USA)
1999  Fabrizio Mori (ITA)  Stéphane Diagana (FRA)  Marcel Schelbert (SUI)
2001  Félix Sánchez (DOM)  Fabrizio Mori (ITA)  Dai Tamesue (JPN)
2003  Félix Sánchez (DOM)  Joey Woody (USA)  Periklis Iakovakis (GRE)
2005  Bershawn Jackson (USA)  James Carter (USA)  Dai Tamesue (JPN)
2007  Kerron Clement (USA)  Félix Sánchez (DOM)  Marek Plawgo (POL)
2009  Kerron Clement (USA)  Javier Culson (PUR)  Bershawn Jackson (USA)
2011  Dai Greene (GBR)  Javier Culson (PUR)  L. J. van Zyl (RSA)
2013  Jehue Gordon (TRI)  Michael Tinsley (USA)  Emir Bekrić (SRB)
2015  Nicholas Bett (KEN)  Denis Kudryavtsev (RUS)  Jeffery Gibson (BAH)


Year Gold Silver Bronze
1980  Barbel Broschat (GDR)  Ellen Fiedler (GDR)  Petra Pfaff (GDR)
1983  Yekaterina Fesenko (URS)  Anna Ambrazienė (URS)  Ellen Fiedler (GDR)
1987  Sabine Busch (GDR)  Debbie Flintoff-King (AUS)  Cornelia Ullrich (GDR)
1991  Tatyana Ledovskaya (URS)  Sally Gunnell (GBR)  Janeene Vickers (USA)
1993  Sally Gunnell (GBR)  Sandra Farmer-Patrick (USA)  Margarita Ponomaryova (RUS)
1995  Kim Batten (USA)  Tonya Buford-Bailey (USA)  Deon Hemmings (JAM)
1997  Nezha Bidouane (MAR)  Deon Hemmings (JAM)  Kim Batten (USA)
1999  Daimi Pernia (CUB)  Nezha Bidouane (MAR)  Deon Hemmings (JAM)
2001  Nezha Bidouane (MAR)  Yuliya Nosova (RUS)  Daimí Pernía (CUB)
2003  Jana Rawlinson (AUS)  Sandra Glover (USA)  Yuliya Pechonkina (RUS)
2005  Yuliya Pechonkina (RUS)  Lashinda Demus (USA)  Sandra Glover (USA)
2007  Jana Rawlinson (AUS)  Yuliya Pechonkina (RUS)  Anna Jesień (POL)
2009  Melaine Walker (JAM)  Lashinda Demus (USA)  Josanne Lucas (TRI)
2011  Lashinda Demus (USA)  Melaine Walker (JAM)  Natalya Antyukh (RUS)
2013  Zuzana Hejnová (CZE)  Dalilah Muhammad (USA)  Lashinda Demus (USA)
2015  Zuzana Hejnová (CZE)  Shamier Little (USA)  Cassandra Tate (USA)

Season's bests

As of August 26, 2015

Year Time Athlete Location
1971 48.9  Ralph Mann (USA) Helsinki
1972 47.82  John Akii-Bua (UGA) Munich
1973 48.54  John Akii-Bua (UGA) Lagos
1974 48.1  Jim Bolding (USA) Milan
1975 48.4  Jim Bolding (USA) Milan
1976 47.63  Edwin Moses (USA) Montreal
1977 47.45  Edwin Moses (USA) Westwood, Los Angeles
1978 47.94  Edwin Moses (USA) Zürich
1979 47.53  Edwin Moses (USA) Montreal
1980 47.13  Edwin Moses (USA) Milan
1981 47.14  Edwin Moses (USA) Lausanne
1982 47.48  Harald Schmid (FRG) Athens
1983 47.02  Edwin Moses (USA) Koblenz
1984 47.32  Edwin Moses (USA) Koblenz
1985 47.63  Danny Harris (USA) Zürich
1986 47.38  Edwin Moses (USA) Lausanne
1987 47.46  Edwin Moses (USA) Rome
1988 47.19  Andre Phillips (USA) Seoul
1989 47.86  Kevin Young (USA) Berlin
1990 47.49  Danny Harris (USA) Lausanne
1991 47.10  Samuel Matete (ZAM) Zürich
1992 46.78  Kevin Young (USA) Barcelona
1993 47.18  Kevin Young (USA) Stuttgart
1994 47.70  Derrick Adkins (USA) Linz
1995 47.37  Stéphane Diagana (FRA) Lausanne
1996 47.54  Derrick Adkins (USA) Atlanta
1997 47.64  Bryan Bronson (USA) Monaco
1998 47.03  Bryan Bronson (USA) New Orleans
1999 47.72  Fabrizio Mori (ITA) Seville
2000 47.50  Angelo Taylor (USA) Sydney
2001 47.38  Félix Sánchez (DOM) Zürich
2002 47.35  Félix Sánchez (DOM) Zürich
2003 47.25  Félix Sánchez (DOM) Saint-Denis
2004 47.63  Félix Sánchez (DOM) Athens
2005 47.24  Kerron Clement (USA) Carson
2006 47.39  Kerron Clement (USA) Indianapolis
2007 47.61  Kerron Clement (USA) Osaka
2008 47.25  Angelo Taylor (USA) Beijing
2009 47.91  Kerron Clement (USA) Berlin
2010 47.32  Bershawn Jackson (USA) Des Moines
2011 47.66  L. J. van Zyl (RSA) Pretoria/Ostrava
2012 47.63  Félix Sánchez (DOM) London
2013 47.69  Jehue Gordon (TRI) Moscow
2014 48.03  Javier Culson (PUR) New York City
2015 47.79  Nicholas Bett (KEN) Beijing
2016 47.73  Kerron Clement (USA) Rio de Janeiro

Year Time Athlete Location
1978 54.89  Tatyana Zelentsova (URS) Prague
1979 54.78  Marina Stepanova (URS) Moscow
1980 54.28  Karin Roßley (GDR) Jena
1981 54.79  Ellen Fiedler (GDR) Jena
1982 54.57  Ann-Louise Skoglund (SWE) Athens
1983 54.02  Anna Ambrazienė (URS) Moscow
1984 53.58  Margarita Ponomaryova (URS) Kiev
1985 53.55  Sabine Busch (GDR) Berlin
1986 52.94  Marina Stepanova (URS) Tashkent
1987 53.24  Sabine Busch (GDR) Potsdam
1988 53.17  Debbie Flintoff-King (AUS) Seoul
1989 53.37  Sandra Farmer-Patrick (USA) New York City
1990 53.62  Tatyana Ledovskaya (URS) Split
1991 53.11  Tatyana Ledovskaya (URS) Tokyo
1992 53.23  Sally Gunnell (GBR) Barcelona
1993 52.74  Sally Gunnell (GBR) Stuttgart
1994 53.33  Sally Gunnell (GBR) Helsinki
1995 52.61  Kim Batten (USA) Gothenburg
1996 52.82  Deon Hemmings (JAM) Atlanta
1997 52.97  Kim Batten (USA)
 Nezha Bidouane (MAR)
1998 52.74  Kim Batten (USA) Monaco
1999 52.89  Daimí Pernía (CUB) Seville
2000 53.02  Irina Privalova (RUS) Sydney
2001 53.34  Nezha Bidouane (MAR) Edmonton
2002 53.10  Yuliya Pechonkina (RUS) Tula
2003 52.34  Yuliya Pechonkina (RUS) Tula
2004 52.77  Faní Halkiá (GRE) Athens
2005 52.90  Yuliya Pechonkina (RUS) Helsinki
2006 53.02  Lashinda Demus (USA) Athens
2007 53.28  Tiffany Williams (USA) Indianapolis
2008 52.64  Melaine Walker (JAM) Beijing
2009 52.42  Melaine Walker (JAM) Berlin
2010 52.82  Lashinda Demus (USA) Rome
2011 52.47  Lashinda Demus (USA) Daegu
2012 52.70  Natalya Antyukh (RUS) London
2013 52.83  Zuzana Hejnová (CZE) Moscow
2014 53.41  Kaliese Spencer (JAM) Moscow
2015 53.50  Zuzana Hejnová (CZE) Beijing
2016 52.88  Dalilah Muhammad (USA) Eugene

External links

Notes and references

  1. "400 Metres Hurdles Men All Time". IAAF.
  2. "400 Metres Hurdles Women All Time". IAAF.
  3. "400 Metres Hurdles Results". IAAF. 8 August 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  4. Roy Jordan (11 July 2016). "Records broken on final day of US Olympic Trials". IAAF. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  5. "400 Metres Hurdles Results". www.flashresults.com. 8 June 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  6. IAAF World Championships in Athletics. GBR Athletics.
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