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Allyson Felix
AllysonFelixRio2016.jpg
Felix at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Personal information
Full name Allyson Michelle Felix
Nationality American
Born November 18, 1985 (1985-11-18) (age 35)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Education University of Southern California
Height 5 ft 6 in
Sport
Country United States
Sport Track and field
Event(s) Sprint
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)
  • 100 m: 10.89 s (London 2012)
  • 150 m: 16.36 s (Manchester 2013)
  • 200 m: 21.69 s (Eugene 2012)
  • 400 m: 49.26 s (Beijing 2015)

Allyson Michelle Felix OLY (born November 18, 1985) is an American track and field sprinter. From 2003 to 2013, Felix specialized in the 200 meter sprint and gradually shifted to the 400 meter sprint later in her career. Her racing repertoire also spans the 100 meters, 4 x 100 meter relay, and 4 x 400 meter relay. At 200 meters, she is the 2012 Olympic champion, a three-time world champion (2005–2009), and two-time Olympic silver medalist (2004 and 2008). At 400 meters, she is the 2015 world champion, 2011 world silver medalist, 2016 Olympic silver medalist, 2017 world bronze medalist, and 2020 Olympic bronze medalist.

Felix has won six additional Olympic gold medals as a member of the United States' women's relay teams: four consecutive medals at 4 × 400 meters (2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020), and two at 4 × 100 meters (2012 and 2016). The 2012 U.S. Olympic 4 x 100 meters team also set the women's 4 × 100 meters world record that still stands. Felix is the only female track and field athlete to ever win seven Olympic gold medals. With eleven total Olympic medals, she is the most decorated woman in Olympic track and field history and the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history. Felix is also the most decorated athlete, male or female, in World Athletics Championships history with 18 career medals, and has the most gold medals, with 13.

Felix's 200 meters best of 21.69 seconds from 2012 ranks her seventh on the all-time list. In the 4 × 400 metres relay at the 2015 World Championships, she ran the fastest split ever recorded by an American woman, and third fastest split ever after Jarmila Kratochvílová and Marita Koch, at 47.72 seconds. She is a participant in the US Anti-Doping Agency's "Project Believe" program. She is coached by Bobby Kersee.

Felix, along with Alysia Montaño and Kara Goucher, is credited for stirring public outcry over Nike's refusal to guarantee salary protections for its pregnant athletes, pushing the sportswear brand to subsequently expand its maternal policy in 2019. She is included in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

Early life and family

Allyson Felix was born on November 18, 1985, in Los Angeles, California. She is the daughter of Paul, an ordained minister and professor of New Testament at The Master's Seminary in Sun Valley, California, and Marlean, an elementary school teacher at Balboa Magnet Elementary. Her older brother Wes Felix is also a sprinter. He runs the 200 m, was the USA Junior Champion in 2002 and the Pac-10 champion in 2003 and 2004 while running for USC. Wes now acts as the agent for his sister. Felix describes her running ability as a gift from God, "For me, my faith is the reason I run. I definitely feel I have this amazing gift that God has blessed me with, and it's all about using it to the best of my ability."

Junior Career

Allyson Felix attended Los Angeles Baptist High School in North Hills, California, where she was nicknamed "Chicken Legs" by her teammates, because the five-foot-six, 125-pound sprinter's body had skinny legs despite her strength. Her slightness was seemingly at odds with her speed on the track and strength in the gym as while still in high school, she deadlifted at least 270 pounds. Felix credits much of her early success to her high school sprint coach, Jonathan Patton.

Felix began to discover her athletic talents after she tried out for track in the ninth grade. Just ten weeks after that first tryout, she finished seventh in the 200 m at the CIF California State Meet. In the coming seasons, she became a five-time winner at the meet. In 2001, at the Debrecan World Youth Championships, Felix achieved her first international title in the 100 meters. In 2003, she was named the national girls' "High School Athlete of the Year" by Track and Field News. As a senior, Felix finished second in the 200 m at the US Indoor Track & Field Championships. A few months later, in front of 50,000 fans in Mexico City, she ran 22.11 seconds, the fastest in history for a high school girl (though it could not count as a world junior record because there was no drug testing at the meet).

Felix graduated in 2003, making headlines by forgoing college eligibility to sign a professional contract with Adidas via her agent Nik Visger. Adidas paid her an undisclosed sum and picked up her college tuition at the University of Southern California. She has since graduated with a degree in elementary education.

Professional

Early career

At the age of 18, Felix finished as the silver medalist in the 200 meters at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, behind Veronica Campbell of Jamaica; in doing so, she set a world junior record over 200 meters with her time of 22.18. After the race, Felix was seen in tears.

Felix became the youngest gold medalist sprinter in the 200 meters at the World Championships in Helsinki in 2005 and then successfully defended her title at Osaka two years later. At Osaka, Felix caught Jamaican Veronica Campbell on the bend and surged down the straight to finish in 21.81 seconds, lowering her own season-leading time by a massive 0.37 seconds. After the final she stated that "I feel so good, I am so excited. I have been waiting for so long to run such a time, to run under 22 seconds. it has not been an easy road, but finally I managed," said Felix. At that time, she addressed her future, saying, "My next goal is not the world record, but a gold in Beijing. I want to take it step by step. I might consider to do both – the 200 and the 400 meters – there." Felix became only the second female athlete after Marita Koch in 1983 to win three gold medals at a single IAAF World Championships in Athletics.

2008–09

Felix qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games during the 2008 Olympic trials in the 200 meters, but just missed qualifying for the 100-meter. However, at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, despite running her season's best time in the 200 meters at 21.93, Felix again finished second to Campbell, who ran 21.74, the best time in the decade, to clinch the gold medal. After her second loss to Campbell, Felix once again succumbed to tears.Felix also ran the 4 × 400 meters relay as a member of the U.S. women's team. The team finished first, giving Felix her first Olympic gold medal.

Allyson Felix Berlin 2009
Felix during the 200 m final at the 2009 World Championships

In the build-up to the 2009 World Championships in Athletics Felix was part of a United States 4 × 100 m relay team that ran the fastest women's sprint relay in twelve years. Lauryn Williams, Felix, Muna Lee and Carmelita Jeter finished with a time of 41.58 seconds, bringing them to eighth on the all-time list. In 2009 aged just 23, Felix proceeded to claim her third 200-meter World Championships gold medal, an unprecedented accomplishment in women's sprinting. Felix clocked 22.02 sec to comfortably beat Jamaica's Olympic 200 m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Afterwards she said, "It's really special to win a third world title. I wanted to do it in this stadium, represent my country and make Jesse Owens proud." But Felix admitted that she would rather have the one gold medal that she was missing. "I would love to trade my three world championships for your gold," Felix jokingly said to Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica at the medalists' news conference. She referred to the 2008 Olympic gold medal in the 200 m, a race Felix was heavily favored to win. She was distressed over finishing second to Campbell-Brown when it happened in Beijing and still obsessed about it a year later. "I don't think I ever want to get over it," Felix said. "I never want to be satisfied with losing." At the same time she also commented, "I'm just grateful to have had success quickly, and sometimes I do have to pinch myself and realize all this has happened in not that much time."

2010–11

In 2010, Felix focused on running more 400 m races. Running the 200 m and the 400 m, she became the first person ever to win two IAAF Diamond League trophies in the same year. She continued her dominance by winning 21 races out of 22 starts, only losing to Veronica Campbell-Brown in New York. Incidentally, it was there that Brown set the WL time of 21.98 seconds. In 2011, Felix attended the 'Great City Games' held in the streets of Manchester on 15 May. It was there that she set the world leading time in the 200 m, which was 22.12. She also ran a 10.89 in the second 100 m of the race.

At the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, Felix participated in the 200 and 400 meter events, as well as the 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays. First up was the 400-meter event, where Felix was placed in lane 3 in the final and finished second in a time of 49.59, 0.03 behind winner Amantle Montsho, who she had beaten throughout the season. In the 200-meter final, running also in lane 3, Felix finished third in an under-par time of 22.42 due to fatigue. Veronica Campbell-Brown won the gold and Carmelita Jeter won silver. In the relay events, Felix ran the second leg in both the 4 × 100 m and 4 × 400 m. Team USA won both events and attained world-leading times in both finals as Felix added two World Championship gold medals to her collection.

AllysonFelixRelay4x400London2012
Felix running second leg in 4 × 400 relay, Olympic games, London 2012

2012–13

In 2012, Felix returned to the Olympic Trials, the schedule of events virtually requiring she choose between attempting to qualify in the 100 m or 400 m as her secondary event behind the 200 m. She chose the 100 m and advanced to the final, the top 3 finishers were to go on to the 2012 Summer Olympics as part of the 100 m team. In the final, she ran 11.01, good enough for 3rd, but not without controversy. Officials ruled Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh to be in a dead heat for the third and final qualification position after initially declaring Tarmoh ahead. A run off between Tarmoh and Felix was scheduled, but Tarmoh withdrew, conceding the final 100 m spot to Felix.

In the 200 m final at the Olympic Trials, Felix ran a personal best and a meet record of 21.69, the third fastest time an American has ever run and the fourth fastest ever. Carmelita Jeter and Sanya Richards-Ross placed 2nd and 3rd respectively.

At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Felix competed in four events: The 100 m, 200 m, 4 × 100 m relay, and 4 × 400 m relay, placing 5th in the 100 m and winning gold in the other three, thus becoming the first American woman to win three golds in athletics at an Olympics since Florence Griffith-Joyner at the 1988 Summer Olympics. In her first final, the 100 m, she placed 5th, running a personal best time of 10.89 seconds. In the 200 m final; a race she lost at the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2004 Summer Olympics to Jamaican rival, Veronica Campbell-Brown, it proved third time lucky as she beat Campbell-Brown, and also the 2012 100 m Olympic Gold medallist, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who finished second. American compatriot Carmelita Jeter took the bronze.

Allyson Felix - 4x400 relay - 2012 Summer Olympics
Felix after the 4 × 400 m relay in London

Felix took to the track again on August 10, 2012 as part of the women's 4 × 100 m relay team with Tianna Madison, Bianca Knight, and Carmelita Jeter. The foursome went on to smash the long-held world record of 41.37, set by East Germany in October 1985. This record was set before Allyson Felix or Bianca Knight were even born.

On the final night of athletics August 11, 2012, Felix ran the 2nd leg of the women's 4 × 400 m (in a leg time of 48.20), with DeeDee Trotter, Francena McCorory, and Sanya Richards-Ross, with the winning time being 3:16.87, the 3rd fastest time in Olympic history behind the Soviet Union and United States at the 1988 Summer Olympics, and the 5th fastest time overall.

In the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Felix entered the 200 m and was expected to also appear in the relay finals, but pulled up in the 200 m final with a hamstring injury and was carried from the track. The race was won by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

2014–15

After a nine-month layoff because of a hamstring injury, Felix resumed competition in the 400 m at the Shanghai Diamond League meet in May 2014 which she finished fifth with a time of 50.81. She later competed in the Eugene Diamond League meet for 200 m and finished third with a season's best of 22.44. She got back into form short after and in the Oslo Diamond League meet she finished first in the 200 m for her first win of the season with a time of 22.73. Later she also took part in the Paris and Glasgow Diamond League meetings.

In Paris, she ran her season's best again (22.34) only behind Blessing Okagbare from Nigeria, who ran a time of 22.32. In Glasgow, she lost to Dafne Schippers from the Netherlands, a heptathlon athlete, which set a national record of 22.34. Felix was just 0.01-second behind her. Felix later took part in the Stockholm Diamond league, where she won the race with a time of 22.85, what became her second win of the season. In a result she took the lead in the Diamond Race standings of 200 m. In the last Diamond League meeting of the season, in Brussels, Belgium, she won the race with a world leading time of 22.02, and also won the Diamond Race.

As the winner of the 2014 IAAF Diamond League 200-meter title, Felix received a bye into the 2015 World Championships in Athletics. Obligated to enter the 2015 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships but not needing to run the 200, she chose the 400 metres. She won the event in 50.19 for her 10th U.S. Championship, coming from 4th place with 100 metres to go to pass Natasha Hastings before the finish. The National Championships also saw then world number one ranked Francena McCorory and number two Sanya Richards-Ross not qualify for the World Championships should Felix choose to run 400 meters.

The schedule for the World Championships had the 400-meter final occur just over an hour after the 200-meter semi-finals, making it virtually impossible to perform to world championship level in both events. As of July 1, she had the fastest seed time in both the 400 (.11 over the fastest competitor) and 200 (.22 over the fastest competitor). This left Felix with a difficult choice as to which event she would put her effort into at the World Championships.

Eventually, Felix chose to focus on the 400 metres, going on to win her first gold medal in the event with a personal best of 49.26 in the final. In doing so, Felix became the first woman to win world titles in the 200 m and the 400 m; additionally, she has now won the most World gold medals, and most world medals total, out of any American. Later on, she won silver medals in both the 4 × 100 m relay and 4 × 400 m relay. In the latter race, Felix received a baton while having a huge deficit to leading Jamaica. She then ran her leg in time of 47.72 and regained the lead for the USA before the final handoff. Running the final leg Francena McCorory was not able to hold on the lead and was overtaken by Novlene Williams-Mills in the final meters.

2016–17

Felix got off to an uncharacteristically slow start in 2016. During a gym workout in April, she dropped from a pull-up bar and landed awkwardly, twisting her right ankle and tearing multiple ligaments. As a result, she could barely even walk, and had to switch up her training plan. She was slated to run in a Diamond League meet in Doha as well as the Prefontaine Classic, but pulled out of both meets. In early June, she ran the 400 m in 51.23 at a lowkey San Diego meet.

While still injured, she raced the 200 meter and 400 meter in the 2016 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Her goal was to win gold in both of these events in the Olympics. In the 400 m final, she was in the middle of the pack after 300 meters but sprinted past the entire field the last 100 meters to pull out a world-leading time of 49.68. Then, in the 200 m final, she was narrowly edged out by Jenna Prandini, who dove across the line to take the third spot on the team, beating Felix by 0.01 seconds (22.53 to 22.54). With that, Felix lost the chance to attempt her historic 200 m – 400 m double. She took the rest of July and the early part of August to give her ankle more time to heal while she prepared for the Olympics.

At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Felix took her overall Olympic haul to nine: six gold and three silver. Her total matches the six silver and three bronze medals held by Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey in total number. Felix hopes of winning a 400m gold medal came up short, after she lost by 0.07 to Shaunae Miller of Bahamas, who made a dramatic dive across the finish line. Felix recovered from the disappointing run to win two golds with 4 × 100 m and 4 × 400 m relays. The first win came after controversy, as Team USA was initially disqualified in their semi-final run, after Felix had lost a baton on a handoff to English Gardner. The replays showed that Felix was bumped by a Brazilian runner just before a handoff, which caused her to lose her balance. After the appeal was accepted, Team USA was awarded a solo run on the next day. With a successful time trial Felix and her teammates advanced to the final, which they eventually won.

The following year, during the World Championships in London Felix added 3 more medals, making her the most decorated athlete of the World Championships history. Felix equalled Merlene Ottey's and Usain Bolt's 14 medal tally by winning a bronze medal in the 400m final. She admitted though that the result was a bit disappointing, as she was hoping to retain her title in the discipline. Just a month prior to the championships Felix had won the London's Diamond League meet held at the same track with a world leading time of 49.65. Felix added two gold medals by being a part of 4 × 100 m and 4 × 400 m winning relays, bringing her tally up to 16 World's medals.

2018–19

Felix reduced her schedule in 2018, saying "In the 19 years that I've been running track, I've never taken a break. Never had a year where I took it easy. Now that this is kind of a year without a championship, I've had to force myself to have a different approach because my goal is 2020. So, if you guys don't see me at as many of the races as I usually run, don't worry, I'm fine, I'm just challenging myself to be smarter." Later in 2018 it was revealed that Felix was pregnant for most of the year, and on November 28, 2018 she gave birth to her daughter by emergency C-section.

Felix's seven-year sponsorship with Nike ended in December 2017 and was not extended. Felix accused Nike of being unsupportive when she gave birth to her daughter in November 2018. Nike wanted her back into competition as soon as possible, offering her a 70 percent pay cut. Felix asked for guarantees that if her performance dropped due to just giving birth she would not be punished, but Nike declined. In May 2019, she penned an op-ed for The New York Times regarding her poor maternity treatment from Nike, represented entirely by men. Alysia Montaño and Kara Goucher have echoed those complaints. Two years later, in June 2021, Felix announced the launch of her own footwear company, Saysh.

In July 2019, Felix competed in her first race since she gave birth in November 2018, finishing sixth in a 400-meter run at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. The same month, she signed a multiyear apparel deal with Gap brand Athleta, becoming their first sponsored athlete. On September 7, 2019, Felix won the 150-meter run at the Great North City Games in Stockton, beating Ashleigh Nelson and Beth Dobbin in a time of 17.37 seconds. Felix competed in her eighth World Championships in 2019 in Doha, Qatar. She won her 12th and 13th World Championship gold medals in Doha, surpassing Usain Bolt for the most golds by any athlete in history. In the first-ever mixed-gender 4x400-meter relay event at the World Championships, Felix ran with Michael Cherry, Wil London III, and Courtney Okolo to run a world record time of 3:09.34. Felix ran a 50.4-second split for her leg. She won another gold as a runner in the preliminary heats for the women's 4 × 400 m relay, although she was not selected to run in the finals.

2020–present

Felix was training during the COVID-19 pandemic with the aim of her fifth Olympic Games – her first as a mom; she completed workouts on streets, empty soccer fields and beaches when quarantine measures were first enacted in March 2020.

In June 2021, at the Olympic trials, 35-year-old Allyson Felix qualified for the 400 meter individual event by finishing second with a time of 50.02 seconds, her fastest time since July 2017 and the masters athletics record (35–40 age group). In the 400m final of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Felix ran 49.46 seconds to win the bronze medal, her 10th overall Olympic medal. This accomplishment extended her 400 meter masters athletics record, tied her with Carl Lewis as the most decorated American track and field Olympian, and broke her tie with Merlene Ottey as the most decorated female track and field Olympian.

Felix concluded her Olympic career at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after winning gold in the |women's 4 x 400 final, alongside a team that included Sydney McLaughlin, Dalilah Muhammad, and Athing Mu. This eleventh Olympic medal broke Felix's tie with Carl Lewis and officially established her as the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history.

She has said she intends to retire before the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Achievements

Osaka07 D7A Allyson Felix celebrating
Felix celebrating her victory in Osaka

Allyson Felix is a five-time recipient of the Jesse Owens Award (after 2013, Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award) from USATF, signifying the Athlete of the Year. She won the award for the first time in 2005, and then again in 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2015. She has received this award more times than any other person.

Personal bests

Event Time (seconds) Venue Date
60 meters 7.10 Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States February 12, 2012
100 meters 10.89 London, United Kingdom August 4, 2012
150 meters 16.28 Osaka, Japan August 31, 2007
200 meters 21.69 Eugene, United States June 30, 2012
300 meters 36.33 Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States February 9, 2007
400 meters 49.26 Beijing, China August 27, 2015
  • At the 2012 Summer Olympics Felix ran the second leg of the 4 × 400 m relay in a time of 48.2 seconds.
  • At the 2015 World Championships Felix ran the third leg of the 4 × 400 m relay in a time of 47.72 seconds (2nd fastest ever 4 × 400 m split by any woman and fastest 4 × 400 m split by an American woman)

National titles

  • 6 Times US National 200 Meters Champion – 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012
  • US National 100 Meters Champion – 2010
  • 3 Times US National 400 Meters Champion – 2011, 2015, 2016
  • Note: The 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 US Championships incorporated the US Olympic Track and Field Trials

International competitions

Representing the  United States
Year Competition Venue Position Event Time
2001 World Youth Championships Debrecen, Hungary 1st 100 m 11.57
1st Medley relay 2:03.83
2002 World Junior Championships Kingston, Jamaica 5th 200 m 23.48 (wind: -0.2 m/s)
2nd (semis) 4×100 m relay 43.92
2003 Pan American Games Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 3rd 200 m 22.93
1st 4×100 m relay 43.06
2004 Olympic Games Athens, Greece 2nd 200 m 22.18
2005 World Championships Helsinki, Finland 1st 200 m 22.16
2006 World Athletics Final Stuttgart, Germany 1st 200 m 22.11
3rd 100 m 11.07
2007 World Championships Osaka, Japan 1st 200 m 21.81
1st 4×100 m relay 41.98
1st 4×400 m relay 3:18.55
2008 Olympic Games Beijing, China 2nd 200 m 21.93
1st 4×400 m relay 3:18.54
2009 World Championships Berlin, Germany 1st 200 m 22.02
1st 4×400 m relay 3:17.83
2010 World Indoor Championships Doha, Qatar 1st 4×400 m relay 3:27.34
2011 World Championships Daegu, South Korea 3rd 200 m 22.42
2nd 400 m 49.59
1st 4×100 m relay 41.56
1st 4×400 m relay 3:18.09
2012 Olympic Games London, United Kingdom 5th 100 m 10.89
1st 200 m 21.88
1st 4×100 m relay 40.82 OR WR
1st 4×400 m relay 3:16.88
2013 World Championships Moscow, Russia DNF 200 m Injured
2015 World Relays Nassau, Bahamas 2nd 4×100 m relay 42.32
World Championships Beijing, China 1st 400 m 49.26
2nd 4×100 m relay 41.68
2nd 4×400 m relay 3:19.44
2016 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2nd 400 m 49.51
1st 4×100 m relay 41.01
1st 4×400 m relay 3:19.06
2017 World Championships London, United Kingdom 3rd 400 m 50.08
1st 4×100 m relay 41.82
1st 4×400 m relay 3:19.02
2019 World Championships Doha, Qatar 1st 4×400 m mixed relay 3:09.34 WR
1st (semis) 4×400 m relay 3:22.96
2021 Olympic Games Tokyo, Japan 3rd 400 m 49.46 MAR
1st 4×400 m relay 3:16.85

Golden League wins

  • 2008 (2) – Rome (400 m), Zurich (200 m)

Diamond League wins

  • 2010 (7) – Doha (400 m), Eugene (400 m), Paris (200 m), Stockholm (200 m), London (400 m), Zürich (400 m), Brussels (200 m)
  • 2011 (3) – Doha (400 m), Rome (400 m), New York (200 m)
  • 2012 (2) – Doha (100 m), Eugene (200 m)
  • 2013 (1) – London (200 m)
  • 2014 (3) – Oslo (200 m), Stockholm (200 m), Brussels (200 m)
  • 2015 (2) – Doha (200 m), Lausanne (200 m)
  • 2017 (1) – London (400 m)

Diamond League titles

  • 2010 Overall 200 m Diamond Race Title
  • 2010 Overall 400 m Diamond Race Title
  • 2014 Overall 200 m Diamond Race Title
  • 2015 Overall 200 m Diamond Race Title

Sports diplomacy

Allyson Felix - 2019
Felix after speaking on Capitol Hill in 2019

In November 2014, Felix traveled to Brazil as a Sports Diplomacy Sports Envoy for the U.S. Department of State. In this function, she worked with Josh George to conduct clinics, speeches and other events for 510 youth, many of whom had disabilities or came from marginalized communities. The program was designed to remove barriers and create activities that benefit audiences with and without disabilities, whilst speaking with a young, at-risk public about important life and sports values, such as respect, discipline and overcoming adversity.

Personal life

She is married to American sprinter and hurdler Kenneth Ferguson. They have a daughter, Camryn, born in 2018.. Felix is a Christian.

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