Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete ever


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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Vielleicht » Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:47 pm

j-a-m wrote:Glad to see you've become a fan of combat sports ... even though I'd say that wrestlers are better athletes than boxers. And then of course MMA fighters are even better athletes, because they combine the different skills.


And perhaps water polo - there's lots of struggling involved as well as immense coordination in the water
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby gh » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:15 pm

i had no idea that grabbing balls was a measure of athleticism!
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby 18.99s » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:33 am

Marlow wrote:
18.99s wrote:That "wrenching his arm out its socket" took a ton of skill to get into position and execute the hold in a manner that would be inescapable by somebody with the strength and experience of his opponent. That move probably was practiced hundreds of times in training.

Excuse me, I can barely read that, what with the BS Meter going off so loudly in my ear! :D


There's not a word of BS in what I wrote. There's a method to what looks like madness in MMA; that "random" rolling on the ground is really a series of attempts to get in position to apply or counteract an extensively practiced fight-ending hold like a rear naked choke, guillotine choke, triangle choke, keylock, or armbar.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Marlow » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:06 am

18.99s wrote:There's not a word of BS in what I wrote.

From what I read about MMA/UFC many matches are won or lost on 'fluke' attacks, not unlike when a boxer's jab suddenly hits just the right point and dazes the fighter enough to subsequently knock him out.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby j-a-m » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:03 am

fortyacresandamule wrote:Do golfers qualify as athletes? For if they do, we might as well called ball room dancers athletes also.

They shouldn't. Or if they do, at least they should have zero chance of winning.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby jazzcyclist » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:07 am

fortyacresandamule wrote:Do golfers qualify as athletes? For if they do, we might as well called ball room dancers athletes also.

The fact that women can't compete with men tells me that there is some athleticism involved in golf, though John Daley proved that you don't have to be in shape. Also, I can't think of another sport that places as a high a premium on hand-eye coordination as golf does.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby j-a-m » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:10 am

user4 wrote:Most boxing matches of the 19th and first decade of the 20th were much longer and allowed for more standing grappling and pushing that tremendously taxed the athletes stamina.

Exactly; and in today's MMA you frequently hear commentators and interviewed fighters talk about the wrestling/grappling part being the one that requires more stamina than the boxing/kickboxing part.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby j-a-m » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:12 am

18.99s wrote:There's not a word of BS in what I wrote. There's a method to what looks like madness in MMA; that "random" rolling on the ground is really a series of attempts to get in position to apply or counteract an extensively practiced fight-ending hold like a rear naked choke, guillotine choke, triangle choke, keylock, or armbar.

That's correct. 18.99s knows what he or she is talking about, Marlow doesn't. Simple as that.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby j-a-m » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:15 am

dbirds wrote:Most soccer players have very little upper body strength and average or less hand-eye coordination. having said that, they do hit your other criteria quite well

Good point; the criteria to determine the best overall athlete should apply both to lower body and upper body strength/muscular endurance/etc.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Marlow » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:36 am

j-a-m wrote:That's correct. 18.99s knows what he or she is talking about, Marlow doesn't. Simple as that.

Actually, the correct distinction is that 1899 has a vested interest in the sport being perceived as 'legitimate' whereas I don't and don't even think it deserves the appellation 'sport' (though I agree that it is a very athletic endeavor). Brutal beat-downs (which is exactly what it is) has no place in our consciousness any more. Even the NFL realizes it has to get control of itself.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby j-a-m » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:13 am

jazzcyclist wrote:Also, I can't think of another sport that places as a high a premium on hand-eye coordination as golf does.

Including hand-eye coordination as one of the many criteria to determine the best athlete is fine with me. What we should also include then is auditory reaction time, which is something sprinters are particularly good at.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Marlow » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:26 am

jazzcyclist wrote:Also, I can't think of another sport that places as a high a premium on hand-eye coordination as golf does.

The golf ball is not moving. Try hitting a 103mph fastball or a big-league curve.
Or hitting a 4.3 wide-receiver, covered by a 4.3 DB, on a deep crossing pattern.
Or pulling up at the top of a key with a defender in your face, and hitting a jumper, nuttin but net!
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby jazzcyclist » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:54 am

Marlow wrote:
jazzcyclist wrote:Also, I can't think of another sport that places as a high a premium on hand-eye coordination as golf does.

The golf ball is not moving. Try hitting a 103mph fastball or a big-league curve.
Or hitting a 4.3 wide-receiver, covered by a 4.3 DB, on a deep crossing pattern.
Or pulling up at the top of a key with a defender in your face, and hitting a jumper, nuttin but net!

All of those things are a lot easier to do and done with a lot more frequency than hole-in-ones on par-3 holes on the PGA Tour.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby lonewolf » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:17 pm

True, but those things are deliberate... has anyone ever made a hole-in-one on purpose?
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby jazzcyclist » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:29 pm

lonewolf wrote:True, but those things are deliberate... has anyone ever made a hole-in-one on purpose?

I'm not a golfer but I thought all pro golfers aimed for hole-in-ones on par-3's, since they are usually short holes with few hazards. Perhaps bambam can weigh in.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby dbirds » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:17 pm

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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Marlow » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:47 pm

jazzcyclist wrote:I'm not a golfer but I thought all pro golfers aimed for hole-in-ones on par-3's, since they are usually short holes with few hazards. Perhaps bambam can weigh in.

You didn't watch the Ryder Cup. Only desperate golfers (coming from behind) go for the pin on Sunday when the pin placement is on a precarious piece of real estate. Better somewhere on the dance floor than blasting out of the trap or fishing your ball out of the water. Discretion is often the better part of valor.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Vielleicht » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:21 pm

jazzcyclist wrote:Also, I can't think of another sport that places as a high a premium on hand-eye coordination as golf does.

Table tennis!
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby jazzcyclist » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:34 pm

Marlow wrote:
jazzcyclist wrote:I'm not a golfer but I thought all pro golfers aimed for hole-in-ones on par-3's, since they are usually short holes with few hazards. Perhaps bambam can weigh in.

You didn't watch the Ryder Cup. Only desperate golfers (coming from behind) go for the pin on Sunday when the pin placement is on a precarious piece of real estate. Better somewhere on the dance floor than blasting out of the trap or fishing your ball out of the water. Discretion is often the better part of valor.

No I didn't watch the Ryder Cup. How many par-3's are located on what you would call precarious pieces of real estate that demand caution? Based on a cursory glance of the map, on three of the course's four par-3's (holes 2, 13 and 17), the water hazard is right before the hole, so erring on the short side is not an option, and the fourth par-3 (hole 8) seems fairly wide open based on my layman's opinion. Here's the link:

http://www.rydercup.com/usa/course/tour/1
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby cullman » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:43 pm

dbirds wrote:1. Carl Lewis - has to be there

He won't be getting too many votes if they show the clip of him throwing out the first pitch at Safeco Field in 2003. :oops:
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Pego » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:26 am

As a young neurologist, I had a good fortune to sit once in an informal chat with Sir John Eccles, perhaps the greatest neurophysiologist of the 20th century. To him, the greatest example of coordination was Henry Aaron. I still think it is a coloratura soprano :wink: .
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Marlow » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:40 am

Pego wrote:To him, the greatest example of coordination was Henry Aaron.


In 1934 Lou Gehrig had 579 at-bats. He batted .363 with 49 home runs and only 31 strike-outs.
Think about it.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Conor Dary » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:07 am

I would go with Ted Williams on this.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Marlow » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:14 am

Conor Dary wrote:I would go with Ted Williams on this.

And Rod Carew always seemed to get wood on the ball.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby dbirds » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:16 am

Here's what John Brenkus said on SportsChat today about the greatest athlete project:

Each week for the next 16 weeks, 5 athletes from each of these categories will be chosen: football, basketball, baseball, hockey, tennis, golf, boxing, combat, soccer, track and field, Olympics, endurance, auto racing, action sports and then two special categories: game changers and multisport athletes.

The public will vote on one each until 16 athletes remain then they will be matched head to head until there is a winner.

The metrics used to determine this are: Strength, power, speed, quickness, reaction time, endurance, durability, in addition to weighing in on an athlete's resume, clutch performances and the overall difficulty of their sport. Each athlete will be scored in each category, not only against their peers (the other athletes they played with during their era) but also against every athlete who has ever played the sport (position).

He said, the data for these come, "Through historical biomechanical studies and video analysis. We have a very effective way of coming up with very accurate numbers even for athletes we haven't had in our lab. We devised a ranking metric that allows us to put an athlete's ability in a historical context."

Regarding the distinction between greatest player and greatest athlete, John said, "There have been a lot of lists that have determined the greatest player. But being an athlete is a different analysis. We are not discounting how great of a player an athlete was, but we're factoring in different aspects, for example, we will look at strength, power, speed, quickness, reaction time, endurance, durability, in addition to weighing in on an athlete's resume, clutch performances and the overall difficulty of their sport. We feel this is a comprehensive metric that covers every aspect of being a great athlete."

He also indicated women are included and his team has been working on it for 6 years; he acknowledged Lebron James is one of the 5 finalists in basketball and he implied that Jim Brown and Wilt Chamberlain would be included as well. On the initial podcast, the host listed Jackie Robinson, Billie Jean King, Jesse Owens, Mia Hamm and Wilma Rudolph as example of the "game changers" category. I am not sure if these are examples or the exact finalists chosen although I am leaning towards the latter. He encouraged the fans to vote and he added, "We are comfortable with the five athletes we've nominated in each sport. I'm not worried about the popularity contest, because having a lasting impact on the public is part of being the best athlete. Each athlete should be a part of the discussion. I think you'll like the candidates, but if you don't, write in your own."

Here's the full chat: http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/ ... ce-brenkus
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby dbirds » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:21 am

Based on this, I think track will be represented well: Owens & Rudolph in the game changers catergory. Thorpe and Zaharias will probably be in the multi-sport category. I can see Geb and perhaps Nurmi, Zatopek, Bekele or Radcliffe in the endurance category. I'm assuming Olympic category will have other Olympic sports like swimming and gymnastics. I am guessing track will have Lewis, Bolt, Bubka, JJK and Eaton perhaps although there are a dozen other worthy choices.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby jazzcyclist » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:52 am

Conor Dary wrote:I would go with Ted Williams on this.

There's no doubt that Williams had extraordinary hand-eye coordination but the thing to remember is that hitting the baseball with power the way Williams did (as opposed to slap hitting), requires more than just hand-eye coordination, it also requires a minimum amount bat speed/power. It's not a coincidence that baseball's greatest pure hitters (Gehrig, DiMaggio, Williams, Aaron) not only stuck out infrequently, but also hit a lot of homeruns.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Pego » Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:05 am

Marlow wrote:
Pego wrote:To him, the greatest example of coordination was Henry Aaron.


In 1934 Lou Gehrig had 579 at-bats. He batted .363 with 49 home runs and only 31 strike-outs.
Think about it.


I said Sir John was a great neurophysiologist, not a baseball historian :D .
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Conor Dary » Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:06 am

Pego wrote:
Marlow wrote:
Pego wrote:To him, the greatest example of coordination was Henry Aaron.


In 1934 Lou Gehrig had 579 at-bats. He batted .363 with 49 home runs and only 31 strike-outs.
Think about it.


I said Sir John was a great neurophysiologist, not a baseball historian :D .


Glad we got that straightened out... :D
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby rabalac » Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:47 am

I can't wait for this "scientific" experiment to run its course. I've been holding my breath for as long as I've been alive trying to know just who is the greatest (fill in the blanks) of all time.

Well if you haven't picked up on my obvious sarcasm, allow me to spell out how I really feel. The notion that science can be used to determine greatness, and on top of that, across generational lines is about as scientific (and predictive) as a two-bit palm reader predicting ones future.

Look, I, as much as the next guy, have dabbled in a few discussions over the years regarding who is the GOAT in various endeavors. And almost ALL of those duscussions-turned-arguments usually ends with the words, "We'll agree to disagree." Imagine how different those discussion will now end if we can now scientifically bring these age-old "debates" to closure. Well I for one want no part of this nonsense.

Besides, the science community did not put an end to the endless (and heated) debates on global warming (the debates have generated some of the heat to be sure), so why should we expect that these so-called sport scientists will be treated any differently?
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby user4 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:19 am

jazzcyclist wrote:
Conor Dary wrote:I would go with Ted Williams on this.

There's no doubt that Williams had extraordinary hand-eye coordination but the thing to remember is that hitting the baseball with power the way Williams did (as opposed to slap hitting), requires more than just hand-eye coordination, it also requires a minimum amount bat speed/power. It's not a coincidence that baseball's greatest pure hitters (Gehrig, DiMaggio, Williams, Aaron) not only stuck out infrequently, but also hit a lot of homeruns.


And Williams' stats dont include what could have been some of his best years (1942-1944, pilot) if played in full. He also lost 1953 to Korea again serving as a pilot. Im guessing that hand eye coordination came in handy with the plane and gun too.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby bambam » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:21 pm

Marlow wrote:
jazzcyclist wrote:Also, I can't think of another sport that places as a high a premium on hand-eye coordination as golf does.

The golf ball is not moving. Try hitting a 103mph fastball or a big-league curve.


Ted Williams said that to Sam Snead once. Snead told him it was true, but that he didn't have to play his foul balls. Golfers do.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby bambam » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:28 pm

fortyacresandamule wrote:Do golfers qualify as athletes? For if they do, we might as well called ball room dancers athletes also.


As a former pro golfer I will say that I think ball room dancers actually have to have a much greater degree of athletic skill than golfers. We just had to become automatons. Dancers are pretty athletic in many cases. There was a book in the 70s called The Ultimate Athlete and the author concluded he did not know who the ultimate athlete was, but he bet he/she was a dancer.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Marlow » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:41 pm

bambam wrote:The Ultimate Athlete and the author concluded he did not know who the ultimate athlete was, but he bet he/she was a dancer.

I am now going to admit that my wife addicted me (it's not my fault!) to So You Think You Can Dance. While most of the dancers are not doing highly athletic things, some of them, male and female, do some AMAZING leaps and lifts and spins, that only a highly talented and trained athlete could attain. Those, needless to say, are my favorites. Graceful dancers are, IMO, a dime a dozen.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby marknhj » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:47 pm

bambam wrote:
fortyacresandamule wrote:Do golfers qualify as athletes? For if they do, we might as well called ball room dancers athletes also.


As a former pro golfer I will say that I think ball room dancers actually have to have a much greater degree of athletic skill than golfers. We just had to become automatons. Dancers are pretty athletic in many cases. There was a book in the 70s called The Ultimate Athlete and the author concluded he did not know who the ultimate athlete was, but he bet he/she was a dancer.


I used to reside/train where the Rambert Dance Company, a leading Brit contemporary dance company, was based. In those days they were called the Ballet Rambert and I would agree with the book's author. Dancers are fabulous all-around athletes and incredibly hard workers.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby repmujhgih » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:24 pm

There have been many great High School Track athletes that went on to pursue Football instead of track. But keep in mind, they were great High School athletes, that does not automatically mean that would have gone pro and become amazing athletes in Track had they continued. High jump is the number one example given as to what many Receivers in the NFL did in High School. They were a 7 foot high jumper let's say. There are a lot of 7-0 HJ's in high school. They don't all go on to become amazing HJ's. And in the realm of pro's, 7-0 is below starting height.

Football players tend to be "power" athletes, and can often times struggle with the finesse side of the field events. Do not just assume that they would be good. There is a reason that only a select few individuals in the world are able to score so high in the Decathlon. It is not something that every athletic football player would be able to do.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Marlow » Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:58 pm

repmujhgih wrote:Football players tend to be "power" athletes, and can often times struggle with the finesse side of the field events.

The elite 'skill' players in the NFL have all the requisite ability to master the technical side of T&F. What they do lack is the ultra-elite genetics to reproduce what a Usain Bolt / Tyson Gay, or a Christian Cantwell / Reese Hoffa can do. NFL greats have TREMENDOUS overall strength and athleticism, but what a 9.75 sprinter or a 72' SPer has is a very specific ability in one certain motor pathway.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby jazzcyclist » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:37 pm

Look at someone like Deion Sanders, who was one of the best shutdown cornerbacks/kick returners in the history of the NFL and who also hit over .300 for a season in MLB. IMO, covering Jerry Rice requires a competely different skillset/talent than batting .300 against big league pitching and because of this, I suspect that there's a lot more that he could do at the highest level than play football and baseball.
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby cullman » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:42 pm

Re: dancers as athletes. Google "Nicholas Brothers In Stormy Weather" if you want to see a great athletic tap performance. :D
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Re: Sports Science to determine the real greatest athete eve

Postby Gabriella » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:09 am

dbirds wrote: Others to consider: if they have women, JJK is a lock.


Why is JJK a lock? If she is, then why isnt a male decathlete a lock?

There are other great women too who have done multiple events and other sports. Irina Privalova has proven great athleticism, she has good HJ and LJ pbs from when she was a junior, had great all-round sprinting ability, and had that background in speed skating from when she was younger.

Heike Drechsler was a fantastic all-rounder, her head-to-heads with JJK were seen as a clash of "the greatest women all-round athletes" by the athletics community. But in addition she was a good swimmer, originally being selected by the GDR authorities for that sport rather than athletics.

Then we have some great sprint-hurdlers, who have superb athleticism; Yordanka Donkova and Gail Devers spring to mind, both with proven (yet unfulfilled) ability in other athletics disciplines.

On pure natural athletic talent alone, we also have Kluft and Ennis. I'm not aware of either of these doing other sports outside athletics though. We also have seen many pole vaulters who have have also been gymnasts at one point too.
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