Glen Durrant wins maiden PDC title with Players Championship Four in Wigan

Glen Durrant sealed his first ever PDC title, beating World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh 8-3 to win Players Championship Four in Wigan on Sunday.

The three-time Lakeside World Champion, who finished runner-up to Dave Chisnall at Players Championship Two in just his second day on the PDC circuit, scooped the £10,000 top prize after seeing off the young Belgian.

Durrant made his first televised appearance as a PDC professional, losing to Daryl Gurney when the Premier League roadshow hit Glasgow last Thursday.

  • Nine-dart MVG wins Players Championship

And the 48-year-old from Middlesbrough continued his dream start to life in the PDC as he beat Jamie Lewis, Richie Edhouse, Joe Cullen, Mensur Suljovic and youngster Bradley Brooks before averaging a colossal 109.3, as well as landing a 128 checkout in a high-class affair against Gerwyn Price, to reach the final.

Durrant made a dominant start in the final, racing into a 3-0 lead to immediately put Van den Berg on the back foot.

The pair traded 13 darters as the Belgian got a foothold in the game, with the final then going with throw for the next four legs.

A 12-dart break of throw from Durrant – the best leg of the final – was to follow as he landed his third 180, a 140 and 130 to set up a 51 checkout and move to within a leg of the title.

  • Best of the darts in Glasgow

He sealed a famous victory with a 76 checkout to round off a comprehensive 8-3 win.

Saturday’s winner Michael van Gerwen was on the receiving end of a 6-1 thumping at the hands of World Championship semi-finalist Nathan Aspinall.

Yes, and as another Twitterer pointed out, it marked his 8th loss of the past 5 years. He also lost 6-0 to Peter Wright in 2017.

The Players Championship action continues next weekend (February 23-24) with events Five and Six at the Barnsley Metrodome.

What comes next? Night Three – Thursday, February 21 at the 3Arena, Dublin

The Premier League heads to the 3Arena in Dublin on Thursday, February 21. You can also stay up to date with all the action by following us @SkySportsDarts and get all the latest news, previews and interviews

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Sanchez blasts Mourinho for him losing confidence and says atmosphere ‘wasn’t healthy’ under former Man Utd boss

The Portuguese manager was sacked in December and replaced by caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer amid reports of dressing-room unrest at Old Trafford.

Sanchez was lured to United from rivals Arsenal by Mourinho in a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan last January but quickly fell out of favour in Manchester.

The 30-year-old, who admitted he has to start justifying his £505,000-a-week wages, believes his problems at United stem from losing his confidence under Mourinho.

Speaking to the BBC, Sanchez said: "Mourinho is one of the best coaches in the world, in the way that he coaches, how he studies videos, the way he goes about things.

"But within the group there was that feeling that you were in the team, then out. Sometimes I didn't play, then I did, then I didn't and as a player you lose confidence.

Alexis Sanchez's stats in all competitions this season

Games played: 19

Games started: 10

Minutes played:  951

Goals: 2

Assists: 4

Chances created: 24

Shot conversion rate: 9.52%

Passing accuracy: 74.26%

"Then an atmosphere was created that wasn't healthy."

He added: "I've played football since I was five and if I have the ball taken away from me, it's as if I lose my joy."

Sanchez's problems at United have continued under interim boss Solskjaer, with Red Devils legend Paul Ince branding the Chilean "nothing short of a disgrace."

While the winger believes his struggles are down to a lack of confidence, Arsenal hero Paul Merson believes Sanchez has lost his hunger.

He told Soccer Saturday: "I hope we see the old Sanchez, but I don't see the confidence or the hunger in his eyes anymore.

"The first thought that used to come to mind when you mentioned Alexis Sanchez was that he worked his socks off, he put a shift in.

"For the quality he possesses as a player, he works as hard as anyone, but I don't see that anymore.

"Sanchez has lost that hunger and it's a shame. It's sad because he was good."

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Jesse Lingard stuns school kids and buys them free ice cream in amazing gesture from the Man Utd star

The 26-year-old showed his class last month when he paid a group of AFC Wimbledon fans £600 of his own money after missing a penalty on Sky's Soccer AM show.

Lingard's latest act of generosity saw the midfielder treat the children at Saint Margaret's school before staying around to sign autographs and pose for pictures.

In a video on his Instagram page, the England international excitedly says: "Man's going to the ice cream van, yeah!" as his entourage and fans followed suit.

The wonderful gesture was lauded online with Matt's Ices writing: "What a lovely gesture from a great footballer" and parents thanking him for making their child's day.

It's not the first time Lingard has reached into his own pocket to help fans out after he splashed out on a group of Wimbledon fans who had lost the chance of winning £500.

The Manchester United star needed to score a penalty for the supporters to win the cash on Sky's Soccer AM show this morning but to their despair, he saw his spot-kick saved.

However, after the programme had ended, the popular playmaker was seen giving £600 to the group of Dons fans so they could enjoy their weekend.

And back in 2017, Lingard once again stunned a bunch of youngsters by joining in their kickabout after they had run over to his car during United's pre-season tour of America.

Lingard is currently enjoying his best season to date and recently revealed one of the secrets behind his form was a personal duel with team-mate Marcus Rashford.

He said: “Marcus and me have been setting targets for each other to challenge ourselves.

“I’m not going to go into the amount of numbers involved because then everyone will know.

“It’s to do with goals, but not just how many we can score each. Assists as well.”

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Swimming: Yip Pin Xiu wins 50m backstroke silver in Melbourne leg of World Para Swimming World Series

SINGAPORE – Yip Pin Xiu saved her best for last when she won Singapore’s first and only medal on the final day of the Melbourne leg of the 2019 World Para Swimming World Series on Sunday (Feb 17).

The 27-year-old swimmer scored 792 points to claim a silver in the 50m backstroke multi-class event.

The World Para Swimming World Series uses a standardised multi-class point system, which sees swimmers of different classifications awarded points after their timings are compared to the world records in their respective classes.

The closer a swimmer’s timing is to the world record, the higher the points.

Tupou Neiufi of New Zealand won the 50m backstroke multi-class race with 862 points, while Australia’s Madel McTernan was third with 648 points.

“As this is the first competition of the season, I think it is a good baseline to work on,” said Nominated Member of Parliament Yip, who won a gold (50m breaststroke S4) and two bronzes (50m freestyle S4 and 50m freestyle S4) at the Asian Para Games in Jakarta in October last year.

“I am satisfied with my timing for this afternoon, but I am excited about going back to work on some aspects to improve it. I am looking forward to the Singapore leg in May.”

The World Para Swimming World Series comprise seven stops across four continents from February to June.

Australia and Singapore (May 10-12) are hosting legs for the first time.

The other stops are in the United States (Indianapolis, April 4-6), Brazil (Sao Paolo, April 25-27), Scotland (Glasgow, April 25-28), Italy (Udine, May 30-June 2) and Germany (Berlin, June 6-9).

Three other Singapore swimmers were also in action in Melbourne.

Theresa Goh came in fourth in the 50m breaststroke with 534 points – 58 points behind third place – while Sophie Soon finished sixth in the same event with 516 points.

Toh Wei Soong finished joint-fourth in the 50m freestyle on 754 points, missing out on third place by just 16 points. He also clocked personal bests in the 50m backstroke (37.90sec) and 200m freestyle (2min 25.21sec).

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Valerie Loureda makes short work of Colby Fletcher on her MMA debut

Valerie Loureda lived up to her billing on her Bellator MMA debut as the 20-year-old taekwondo black belt made short work of Colby Fletcher.

Loureda showcased her arsenal of weapons in the flyweight match-up before turning up the heat to dispatch her opponent with a TKO victory at 2:55 of the opening round at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

  • MVP outpoints Daley

“This is a moment I’ve been dreaming of since I was little girl,” an emotional Loureda said in her post-fight interview. “My whole life I dreamed of the moment I could have the platform to show my martial arts to the world.”

🧸 #Bellator216 @valerielouredaa

Yaroslav Amosov stayed undefeated with a unanimous points decision over veteran Erick Silva.

The 25-year old Ukrainian was given a 29-27 and a pair of 29-28s to move 2-0 in Bellator.

Cheick Kongo battled his way to victory over former Bellator heavyweight champ Vitaly Minakov with a unanimous decision. The judges’ scores were 30-27 and a pair of 29-28s in favour of the 43-year old Paris native (30-10-2).

Mirko Cro Cop was also awarded a unanimous decision with revenge over Roy Nelson having lost to his opponent at UFC 137.

Cro Cop was awarded the fight 30-27 and a pair of 29-28s as the 44-year-old made it 7-0 in rematches.

  • MVP v Daley II in the UK?

“Roy is tough, a hard puncher,” Cro Cop said. “I will say it was more mentally hard for me than physically. It’s always hard to go into rematch when you lose the first fight.”

Sky Sports will be the only place in the UK and Ireland to watch the US, London and Dublin shows of the Bellator MMA 2019 tour.

Sky Sports fight dates announced:

  • Bellator 217: Gallagher vs. Graham – Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 – 3Arena – Dublin
  • Bellator 218: Sanchez vs. Grimshaw – Friday, March 22 – WinStar World Casino & Resort – Thackerville, OK, USA
  • Bellator 219: Koreshkov vs. Larkin – Friday, March 29 – Pechanga Resort Casino – Temecula, CA, USA
  • Bellator 220: MacDonald vs. Fitch – Saturday, April 27 – SAP Center – San Jose, CA, USA

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Maxwell left ‘shattered’ as Stars blow it

Glenn Maxwell was left “shattered” after his Melbourne Stars blew their chance for a first Big Bash League title.

Needing just 55 runs from 43 balls with 10 wickets in hand, the Stars lost a stunning 7-19 from 29 balls as the trophy slipped through their grasp as the Melbourne Renegades prevailed by 13 runs in front of 40,816 at Marvel Stadium.

Glenn Maxwell looks to the scoreboard after his dismissal during the BBL match final.Credit:AAP

Stars captain Maxwell didn’t go as far as calling his side’s capitulation a “choke” when asked directly, although said he probably would’ve chosen to bat first if he had his time again and suggested openers Ben Dunk (57) and Marcus Stoinis (39) could’ve upped the ante while still in.

“We were so close. For eight overs it looked like we were winners. It’s hard to take right now,” Maxwell said.

“You could feel that on the boundary, we needed to kill the game a little bit earlier, go harder at the start while the ball was hard and just get ahead of the run rate.

“You can kill games in the power play when you are chasing scores like that, and 0-36 is great, but it was that sort of game, we probably needed to go harder. That’s all in hindsight.”

Maxwell was one of those who let his side down, making one from six balls. But rather than completely pointing the finger at his batsmen, the all-rounder praised the Renegades’ bowlers.

“We didn’t get off to a flyer, they executed and were able to build up enough pressure to make it hard for us.

“We just couldn’t have a batter come in and do the job. It seemed like every time we had someone come in and take a risk they got out.”

Maxwell heads off to India for Australian white ball duties on Monday but said this defeat would sting.

“This will probably drive us next year, and we can use it as good motivation to go one step further,” Maxwell said.

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The factors that conspired to create MLB’s free-agent freeze

PORT ST. LUCIE — As a pitcher, Justin Verlander has no problem going nine innings, or throwing 120 pitches.

As a tweeter, though? The Astros’ ace keeps his work short and sweet.

“System is broken,” Verlander, the former Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award winner and Rookie of the Year, wrote on Twitter as part of a larger diatribe criticizing the glacial pace of baseball’s free-agent market.

It sure seems that way. As of Friday, with pitchers and catchers already having reported for all 30 teams, the popular website MLB Trade Rumors listed 60 free agents, including superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, as unsigned. Tensions between players and owners have soared, and the specter of a 2021 work stoppage looms.

A series of unfortunate events, most of them designed with the intent of improving the greater product, have converged to transform the Hot Stove League from seasonal to virtually perpetual. Consider that veteran bat Matt Holliday, following a shaky 2017 with the Yankees, didn’t find a 2018 employer until he returned to the Rockies in late July.

If you launched into space on the evening of Dec. 9, 2015, after learning earlier that day of the five-year, $90 million contract that good-but-not-great pitcher Jeff Samardzija signed with the Giants, and just returned an hour ago, you probably wonder how the heck baseball got here. Consider this your cheat sheet:

1. Analytics and the aging curve. The 10-year, $240 million albatross Albert Pujols signed with the Angels in December 2011 should not deter teams from committing huge dollars and years to Harper and Machado. After all, the Cardinals great Pujols was about to turn 32 when he headed West, whereas Harper and Machado are both 26.

Instead, Pujols should be blamed for the many players over 30 who receive surprisingly little love. Even very productive pitchers such as Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel, both of whom are entering their age-31 campaign, remain unsigned in part because teams aren’t willing to reward them the same way they once did Samardzija, who got paid at age 30, or Mark Melancon, whom the Giants rewarded about a year later at 31.

That’s thanks to the simpler analytics, the actuarial tables that can tell you pretty clearly about the risks of committing to a guy over 30 in this age of increased testing for illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

2. The 2016 collective-bargaining agreement. This has turned out to be a real doozy for the players, who appeared more focused on quality-of-life advancements, such as a team chef on the road, and less inclined to battle for financial victories.

Consequently, the Players Association signed off on a deal that significantly penalizes teams that go too far over the luxury-tax threshold ($206 million this year) and rewards clubs that stay under that figure. At the moment, just four clubs — the Yankees, Red Sox, Nationals and Dodgers — appear likely to surpass the threshold.

It’s evident that teams now regard that threshold as a soft salary cap. The Yankees and Dodgers both got under it last season to reset their tax rates moving forward. This development has proved particularly harmful to Harper and Machado, both of whom aimed to set records for annual average value.

3. Tanking. It was the 2011 CBA that really fired the starter’s pistol for baseball tankers. That joint effort created a system that capped spending in the amateur draft and allotted the most “draft pool” money to the worst team, then the second-most funds to the second-worst club and so on.

Suddenly, teams had even less incentive to try to win games unless they felt that they were bona fide contenders. It made increasingly more sense for rebuilding entities to slash payroll, not stock up on free agents and reap the benefits. The Astros and Cubs worked the system to perfection — stocking up on high draft picks from low-cost, lousy teams and producing long-awaited championships for their fan bases.

Now many teams each year try to follow that model, which leaves nearly half the league not particularly engaged in the free-agent market.

4. A change in team strategies. Though a winter transactions deadline has seemingly never existed, teams used to eye the December holiday season as an ideal time to finalize the major touches on roster renovations. They had tickets to sell, obviously, and the more time to pound the drums on their new and improved products, the better.

Gradually, it occurred to many clubs: Whatever they lost in ticket sales from playing the calendar differently could be recouped and then some by waiting out free agents. Last year, the Royals re-signed third baseman Mike Moustakas, who had turned down a qualifying offer for $17.4 million, for a paltry $5.5 million in March. And here we are in mid-February with plenty of big names still looking for work.

5. The less-involved owner. Scott Boras, who has used the wait-out strategy most prominently and who represents Harper, Keuchel and Marwin Gonzalez, among others, used to be particularly skilled at going over the heads of front offices and cutting deals with club owners. However, in accordance with teams’ growing reliance on analytics, owners are paying their front offices considerably more to crunch the ever-expanding numbers, then authorizing those baseball operations folks to make more calls on free agents.

And since general managers and their deputies get paid to act objectively rather than emotionally, free agents largely can no longer rely upon spur-of-the-moment decisions such as the 2012 Tigers responding to Victor Martinez’s season-ending injury by rewarding Prince Fielder with $214 million.

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Brian Cashman doesn’t slam door on Yankees’ Harper-Machado splash

TAMPA — Until Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are wearing big league uniforms, the stud free agents will never stop being linked to the Yankees.

After talking about Luis Severino and CC Sabathia and before addressing why Jacoby Ellsbury was rehabbing a foot problem in Arizona instead of at spring-training camp, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman spoke about always being open for business and to concepts in the never-ending search to improve the team.

That led to Cashman being asked if he had made calls to or received calls from Machado’s and Harper’s camps.

“I wouldn’t say specifically but I would reinforce I am doing my job,’’ Cashman said. “Whether it is those two players or other players. The job at hand is to constantly be open-minded to ways to make this work.’’

The Yankees — who have added lefty James Paxton, brought back Sabathia and J.A. Happ, signed free-agent infielders DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki and inked relievers Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino — believe they improved the club after finishing second to the Red Sox in the AL East and getting punished by the eventual World Series champions in the ALDS last season.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the Yankees have removed their nets from the water.

“We like what we have done to this point, but we are never a finished product until at least Aug. 31,’’ Cashman said.

In most cases, injured players report to camp and get treated by team doctors and physical therapists. However, when Ellsbury came down with plantar fasciitis in Arizona while working back from hip surgery, the decision to let him remain at home was made by the Yankees’ medical department.

“We sent Mike Schuk, our physical therapist, out there and after the surgery everything was going well and the expectation that he would be here and ready to go and to compete,” Cashman said. “But as the winter progressed and he started doing more physical activity on his lower half he had the plantar fasciitis pick up so we focused on that.’’

Cashman said Ellsbury, who missed all of last season with several medical issues, is working 6-8 hours a day with a physical therapist in Phoenix.

Schuck visited Ellsbury recently and suggested one-on-one work in Phoenix would be the way to go instead of bringing the outfielder to join the 60 or so players in camp, because he isn’t able to run on flat ground yet.

Cashman said Ellsbury, who has two years and $47 million remaining on the seven-year, $153 million contract he signed before the start of the 2014 season, likely will resume baseball activities in mid-to-late March and likely will start the season on the injured list.

Right-hander Trevor Stephan was a late addition to the Yankees’ camp, but he has impressed manager Aaron Boone in early mound sessions.

“He is someone who caught my eye a little bit [Friday],’’ Boone said of the 23-year-old — who pitched for Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton last year, going a combined 6-9 with a 3.69 ERA in 24 starts and striking out 140 in 124 ¹/₃ innings.“His stuff, three pitches. He threw to hitters [Friday] and it as exciting to see one of our young guys that maybe doesn’t impact our club this year but get a little glimpse of guys on their way.’’

The fence that is behind the catchers in the George M. Steinbrenner Field bullpen has mesh running from top to bottom and restricts the view from behind the catcher.

That doesn’t mean, however, you needed to see who was throwing on a mound Saturday. The sound of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt was firecracker loud, which meant Aroldis Chapman was throwing.

Raynel Espinal, a non-roster right-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic, hadn’t arrived in camp as of Saturday due to visa problems. Espinal, 27, went 7-2 with a 3.09 ERA in 41 games (three starts) for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year.

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NFL settles collusion grievances with Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid

With a public hearing looming and the threat of owners and league officials facing depositions, the NFL settled collusion cases brought by Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid.

The league, about to celebrate its 100th season, faced criticism from all sides thanks to the protest movement started by Kaepernick. Many Kaepernick supporters wanted to see him back on the field, while other fans said they wouldn’t watch if the league allowed players to protest during the national anthem.

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The league and Kaepernick’s lawyer sent out statements Friday saying that “the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances” and that a confidentiality agreement would prevent either side from commenting further.

It remains unclear if the NFL admitted wrongdoing or how much money Reid, Kaepernick or others may have received. Considering the lost salary both players claimed and legal costs, the settlement could have climbed into the tens of millions of dollars.

“For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL,” the league statement said. “As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances. The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.”

Kaepernick’s lawyer Mark Geragos tweeted a similar statement.

The protests slowed down this season, as the NFL made contributions to organizations chosen by players and promised more attention to social justice issues. But the controversy reignited every time there was a development in the case.

A hearing was scheduled for later this month.

Kaepernick and Reid filed collusion grievances against the league, saying they were blacklisted because of protests during the national anthem at games. Kaepernick has not played in the league since 2016, while Reid missed three games last season before signing with Carolina. Kaepernick contended the owners violated their collective bargaining agreement with players by conspiring to keep him off teams.

While the players seemed intent on pursuing the cases, the league might not have been eager for those deposed — including Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners and league executives — to appear. Still, for the players to prove collusion is a mighty challenge because, according to the 2011 labour agreement between the union and league, a “club, its employees or agents” must have “entered into an agreement” to limit contract offers.

Kaepernick filed his grievance in August 2017. Arbitrator Stephen B. Burbank sent it to trial, denying the league’s request to throw out the former 49ers quarterback’s claims. Burbank’s decision meant there was enough evidence of collusion to keep the grievances going.

A wave of protests by NFL players began in 2016 after Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality and racial inequality. The protests grew into one of the most polarizing issues in sports, with President Donald Trump loudly urging the league to suspend or fire players who demonstrate during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

While he has been away from the playing field, Kaepernick has become an advocate for battling social and racial injustice. On Thursday, a person with knowledge of the conversations told the AP that Kaepernick turned down a chance to join the fledgling Alliance of American Football, seeking $20 million or more from the upstart league that pays its players $225,000 over three seasons.

Safety Reid recently re-signed with the Panthers for three years and more than $22 million. He noted then that he got “fair market value” after making just $1.69 million last season from the Panthers.

“If anything, it proves my point from last year,” Reid said. “I didn’t sign until the (fourth) week and did for almost the league minimum. And this year I signed a more substantial contract. And nothing has changed. I’m still the same player.”

Officials with the players union said Friday afternoon that they had just learned of the settlement and had no details.

“We continuously supported Colin and Eric from the start of their protests, participated with their lawyers throughout their legal proceedings and were prepared to participate in the upcoming trial in pursuit of both truth and justice for what we believe the NFL and its clubs did to them,” the NFLPA said in statement. “We are glad that Eric has earned a job and a new contract, we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well.”

Kaepernick has one strong supporter in Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“I think it’s a win for Colin,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “I think he wants to go back and start playing again. I think that’s what he wants. He had a statement that he had to make through his demonstrations, but he’s a quarterback and I think he should be working.”

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Edmonton Oilers trade Ryan Spooner to the Vancouver Canucks for Sam Gagner

The Edmonton Oilers have traded forward Ryan Spooner to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Sam Gagner.

Gagner, 29, started his NHL career with the Oilers after being drafted by the club sixth overall in the 2007 NHL Draft.

He spent eight years with Edmonton from 2007 to 2015, and has since played with Arizona, Philadelphia, Columbus and Vancouver.

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Gagner has appeared in seven games for the Canucks this season, posting three points.

The Oakville, Ont., native has spent most of the season with the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, posting 37 points in 43 games.

Spooner was acquired from the New York Rangers in November 2018 in exchange for forward Ryan Strome.

In 25 games with the Oilers, Spooner scored two goals and one assist.

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