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Interviews

Luke Madill

bmxultra.com: After all these years in the sport do you still enjoy racing?
Luke: Yes of course. I would step away form racing if I was not having fun. It can get very frustrating at times but I am still having fun out there and will continue to race while I am.

bmxultra.com: What do you think is more fun, the challenge of the tracks, or the competition, or is there something else?
Luke:  I think it’s a bit of both. It’s great to see the sport finally getting a  big change with the Supercross rounds. I also think that win or lose you just have your sites set on that next race. After time you don’t realise that the next race has lead you 26 years down the track.

Luke Madill

bmxultra.com: What do you enjoy most about it?
Luke: I think it’s one of those sports that’s constantly developing and you need to learn new skills every year to be at the top. I love the competitiveness of the racing and setting new goals to achieve all the time. I have met so many people and BMX is a massive part of my life.

bmxultra.com: Do you think you would continue to ride your bike a long time after your career is over?
Luke: I would like to think I will be still involved in some way. I hope at some stage I will be like the old pros taking my kids down the track saying “I used to be one of the best in the world at this” then land on my head and then the kids calling Mum to take me to the hospital.  As far as vet pro if that’s what your hinting? I am not sure. I don’t want to say I will never do it, like most of the vet pro class today haha, but at this stage would just like to see where I am at when that time comes.

bmxultra.com: Who do you think are the youngsters to watch for in the coming years?
Luke: As far as young guys coming through it’s tough. Bodi Turner is showing good signs, but the way the sport has been going, there are new kids popping up every year. I go to a lot of clubs in different states and areas that have not got much around, and to see some of the natural untrained talent out there is impressive. I just hope the ones that are not getting the support they need do not lose interest because they were not selected in a state or national team. Hopefully they work out something soon to keep these kids spirit up.

bmxultra.com: What do you think of Khalen Young’s success in the USA?
Luke: Khalen and I have been close mates since we got him on the Norco team in 2002. I am proud of what he has achieved. I know there are a lot of people who talk out there that thought he wouldn’t make it and also wouldn’t last once his daughter was born. He has proven everyone wrong and showing each week he is still one of the fastest guys out there. I have had some of the funniest times traveling with him and sure there is more to come.

bmxultra.com: What about Sam Willoughby’s success?
Luke: Sam is proof that the training and guidance you can get today, from people who have been there before, works. He has already achieved so much at a young age. To see how motivated he gets when we all ride together reminds me of me at that age. I am sure he is going to achieve even more in the coming years. He has a good head and hope he doesn’t change to his new life style too much. The difference is these kids of today don’t realise how lucky they have it when it comes to getting the right training advice that works. I wish I had access to the things we have today 10 years ago.

bmxultra.com: Do you ever wonder where you would be right now if you had have chosen to do a full season or two in the US?
Luke: Not really. I had my chance to stay and make a living over there but didn’t choose to take it. Living in another country just did not suite me. Australia is where I belong. I loved the racing over there but also had a lot of commitments back home.

Luke Madill

bmxultra.com: Have you ever been tempted?
Luke: Yes, I have been tempted a few times. But I was comfortable with where my life was heading at the time. I was staying there for about 3 months at a time for a few years but I just never felt like it was my scene over there.

bmxultra.com: Do you think you can keep getting faster?
Luke: I believe I can. I know when I set my mind to things and give it my all I can achieve my goals. I have had a lot on my plate the past two years on and off the track so I’m looking forward to seeing what next year brings. The support I get from the kids and families is what keeps me going and I love that support. I also love the haters out there who think I am washed up or have some other opinion about me. Proving them wrong when I get results feels even better.

bmxultra.com: What do you think could be done to increase the number of riders at race meetings?
Luke: I think there is so many answers to this question. I think they need to stop telling people when they have to race to qualify for an event. I don’t think there is enough racing and too many rules to hold a race these days. I remember when I was younger we were racing every second weekend traveling somewhere to get a race in. The clubs are all fighting too much instead of working together. I went to a race last weekend with only small numbers showing up. I heard some people didn’t show as that club didn’t support their race. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Are we really going to get this childish and not take kids to races because of this. At the end of the day the only people we are hurting are the kids. I think we need to start looking at what is going to be best for our riders not who’s club is supporting who or making the most money.

bmxultra.com: You have been to, and won, some of the biggest race meetings in the world. Do you think there’s anything that Australia can learn about the way things are done, etc, to improve the sport
Luke: I think Europe has the best set up. All their races lead up to the world championships. Everyone asks why the U.S and European riders are so fast at worlds. They have just come off their biggest races of the year only weeks before the worlds. These riders are coming into the event in peak form with excellent race experience. Australia has some of the quietest periods leading up to these big events. If you look how much these countries race and their schedule you will see how it works and understand why these riders are so well prepared.

Luke Madill

bmxultra.com: That would mean some big races in the coldest and wettest time of the year in Australia, do you think that people not competing at the World Champs would be motivated enough to race then?
Luke: Good question. But I still think yes. I am not sure about other states but I know NSW tries to get interclub racing happening at these times. So the clubs have taken it upon themselves to make sure their riders are getting some form of racing. Maybe this is why the schedule could change and places like QLD or even the NT can swap dates with Melbourne and Canberra for Probik/ Champbik rounds giving riders better conditions in the colder months. Plus it rains every second day in Europe and doesn’t seem to slow those guys down.

bmxultra.com: Maybe someone could consider holding a big indoor race? Or even a small one at the Hordon Pavillion again?
Luke: For sure. I do not understand why they are heading back outdoors especially with the Australian titles. I think there are places out there that could work. Not to be having a go at BMXA in anyway, but I hope there reasons for not running the indoor events is that they do not make enough money like they would with a track already built. The Australian titles should be in Adelaide ever year. It works and everyone I speak to says the same thing .There is no advantage for riders and also you never have to worry about being hit by a tropical cyclone.

bmxultra.com: Is there something you could do to help grow the sport?
Luke: Are you offering me a job? haha. There are people out there who are getting paid to run the sport in this country. Some of them have great ideas and trying to help, but some of them don’t like being told when something is not working. I think these people need to start going to open races (not just national rounds) and maybe walk around and get some ideas from the people out there. They look at license numbers or turn up to Australian titles and see the thousand riders there and think it’s working. They don’t turn up to the open days and see that only 150 riders have turned up and ask why.

I think they should listen to the riders or families more as these are the people turning up to the events. I still think the racing calendar is all backwards. They are getting close with the champbiks/ probiks series but still don’t think they have the races at the right times. If you look at most states calendars it will go regional races, Australian titles, world titles then at the end of the year state titles. Shouldn’t it go regional, State, Australian then worlds? This will give kids a chance to experience the bigger races in a better order rather than going straight from a regional round into an Australian title. As a coach it’s much easier to prepare riders for the events. I understand that it doesn’t leave much racing towards the end of the year but what’s wrong with that? Every other sport gets a season or a rest so maybe this will give families a chance to have a break, save some money and plan for the next year. It might give kids a chance to play two sports and not have to make a choice so early in life. I also think we need to try and get the pros to these events somehow. I know that in the past if it was a big pro race that families would follow.

bmxultra.com: Have you ever bought anything from overseas to save a couple of dollars?
Luke: Yes I have. But if the lady in the store was a little more helpful probably wouldn’t have walked out and looked on the net.

bmxultra.com: What do you say to people who are buying overseas?
Luke:  It’s hard. What can you say to a family who can get wheels, bike or anything cheaper when they are struggling. It’s not good I know. I try and always send kids to local bike shops or look at Aussie sites. I don’t how you can fix this. It’s hard when it’s the world of today when you can get anything off the net.

bmxultra.com: What do you think people buying their equipment overseas is doing to the sport in Australia?
Luke: Obviously hurting the Australian businesses. I have seen companies struggling from it and it’s not good. This will also hurt any chance of sponsorship for riders and events.

bmxultra.com: Who is your inspiration?
Luke: I watch guys like Valentino Rossi and Roger Federer. These guys are close to my age and year in and out and have been winning titles for the past 10 years. Anyone can win a title once. But try being the best at your sport for a decade like these guys have is inspiring.

bmxultra.com: What do you think your life would be like without a BMX bike?
Luke: Hard to even think about it. I was pretty much born on a bike and even if I stopped tomorrow I am sure I would be putting as much information I know back into the sport in trying to help it grow. I am really enjoying coaching at the moment and seeing these kids start to improve and achieve there goals. I get as much of a kick out of this as winning myself.

Luke Madill

Olympic experience

bmxultra.com: When you started racing a century ago did you ever think it would take you to the Olympics?
Luke: Easy, your older than me remember! haha. But no, it never entered into my head. It was not until it got announced that I believed it was real. Even then for the next two years I was waiting for it to be pulled out.

bmxultra.com: The first time you raced in China, a year before the Olympics, you had some problems coping with the heat, tell us what happened.
Luke: I cramped up in the semi finals. Like the Olympics we had 3 semi finals. The first one I was in 3rd and into the last turn just cramped and couldn’t peddle. The next semi it happened half way round and again had to stop. The last semi I cramped walking up the back of the gate and could not even get on the gate. My legs just kept cramping and could bend them at all.

bmxultra.com: Did you think it was going to be a problem when the Olympics would come around?
Luke: Yes. Unfortunately no one really has pin pointed why people cramp. I just tried to make sure I took all the advice I could get and hope it did not happen again on the day. It was not just me who suffered from it that day either. It was a 35 degree day and 90% humidity for the trials.

bmxultra.com: What is your fondest memory about the China Olympics that can you share with our readers?
Luke: The closing ceremony. To walk into a stadium with 90000 people cheering was something I will never forget. It made you realise that you had just been apart of something that was really amazing and life changing.

bmxultra.com: What’s the biggest lesson you learned about BMX at the Olympics?
Luke: Try not think you are at the Olympics. Don’t get caught up in all the hype and lose focus on what you are there to do. You need to be strong mentally for this event.

bmxultra.com: What did you learn about yourself at the Olympics?
Luke: I care too much about other people than I do myself. I wanted to make so many people back home proud and not disappoint them that I forgot to think about what I wanted. In the end I should have realised they will always be proud so I just disappointed myself.

bmxultra.com: Disappointed yourself? I don’t know how you could be disappointed with being one of 32 men and 16 women chosen from all over the world to represent our sport on the worlds biggest stage. You are now immortalised in history as one of the chosen few. So you didn’t have the best of luck there, luck plays a much bigger part in our sport than people give it credit for, don’t you think?
Luke: What I achieved I am very humble about and don’t walk around introducing myself as Luke Madill the Olympian. Of course I am very proud of it all and realise I am a part of history,  but as a racer of many years it’s to hard not to be disappointed in your performances. At the end of the day it’s still a BMX race your in. What it means at the end is just worth more.  In some ways yes. I do believe you can be unlucky and our sport is extremely cruel at times. But sometimes, if prepared well enough, physically and mentally, I believe you can take luck out of the equation.
Luke Madill
bmxultra.com: What did you think of the track?
Luke: I didn’t mind the track. It flowed well but was a little bit open and long for my liking.

bmxultra.com: What did you think of your preparation for the event?
Luke: My preparation was pretty spot on. All my training and testing leading into the event was some of my best. But as we know with BMX that doesn’t mean much when racing starts. I think maybe I need to say no a little bit more to people leading into the Olympics, but that’s not me.

bmxultra.com: I saw somewhere you listed yourself as your coach, do you still coach yourself? Do you think there’s an advantage in doing that?
Luke: Yes I still write my own programs. It has some advantages in that I know what works best for me. But sometimes it makes life easier and takes the pressure off when someone is telling you what to do. A coach is someone you need belief and trust in which can be hard to find. My Dad probably has the best advice for me as he has watched me more than anyone, but like all sons or daughters we don’t listen as we hate hearing that they were right.

bmxultra.com: Were your parents at China?
Luke: Yes. My parents have been, and still are, my biggest supporters. They still try make all the major title races. They have been going to BMX races longer than myself with my older brothers. They get as much of a kick out of it as I do. The support and belief they have in me is the biggest reason I can say I have achieved a lot of my goals.

bmxultra.com: Did you get along well with your Aussie team mates?
Luke: Yeah for sure. 90% of the time I was rooming with Kama on all the camps leading into the Olympics. I think I have seen him naked more then his wife haha. Then at the Olympics I was roomed with Jared and found out he loves a 1am snack. But we all got along really well have have some great memories from it.

bmxultra.com: Ok, your naked Kama secret is safe with me. I won’t tell a soul. It must have been nice for you and Jared to have Kamakazi stealing the limelight?
Luke: Kama was loving the cameras and telling them his life stories in Beijing. But we all know he is there to put on a show. His lucky socks one is still my favourite. But if Kama did start acting normal it just wouldn’t seem right.

bmxultra.com: Did you have any lucky charms or rituals?
Luke: No, I just go out there and do what I have been training and preparing preparing for. Maybe I can try a pair of Kama’s lucky socks.

bmxultra.com: When Jared first came back to BMX in the lead up to Beijing, did you ever think he would be a chance for the Australian team at the Olympics?
Luke: Yes. He turned up at Nerang in 2007 with a crazy sling shot and some strong first straight speed. He quickly showed he was there to get the job done and had everyone talking.

bmxultra.com: Do you have 2012 in your sights?
Luke: Yes. I would love to give it another shot. I would like to finish off with a better result than last time. As we all know it’s still a long way away and lots can change in the next 2 years. Predicting riders now is too early. But if I could go again it would be a great finish to my career.

bmxultra.com: If selections were made today for the Aussie Olympic team and Australia has the maximum number of spots again who would be your picks?
Luke: I guess you would have to say Sam, Khalen after worlds. Then you have Jared, Brian and Myself close behind. But I’ll pick myself this time round haha

bmxultra.com: Do you think the inclusion of BMX racing in the Olympics has had an effect on the sport?
Luke:Yes but I think good and bad. Good in that the world finally knows what BMX racing is about and has some respect for it. Bad as I think it hurts some countries with losing riders. Criteria these days is all about overseas racing. This stops the high profile riders turning up to any events in Australia and kind of takes the feeling away from some of the bigger races now. This also makes it hard for riders to try and qualify for Olympics or any national team as unless you race overseas, winning here just doesn’t cut it anymore. I think this causes riders to give up or not take it as serious. Maybe this is what we need to look at to help these guys stay in the sport? The hardest part in making the team is that there are a lot of sacrifices that they expect you to make in your life with family, friends and work. I understand this, but what I hate seeing is when the team is selected and there are riders who have missed out but who have made the same sacrifices then just get told “thanks it was a good effort but you haven’t made it” then get no more support after they gave it their all for four years. I understand it’s life but it doesn’t seem right.

bmxultra.com: Do you think the worlds perception of what BMX is now might be a little skewed? I mean a Supercross style track isn’t what the everyday BMX racer rides on.
Luke: Not really as besides the the hill it’s still a normal BMX track. I think in a year or two’s time that is what BMX will be. I know most clubs are already applying for grants to increase the size of there hills.

bmxultra.com: Have you become a local hero since your appearance at the Olympics? Do people recognise you in the street?
Luke: Short answer No. I have been recognised by a few people in my town when they do interviews with me for the papers, but it is very rare that I will walk down the street and someone will approach me.

Luke Madill

Olympic replica track in your backyard

bmxultra.com: What on earth made you want to build the track in your backyard?
Luke: Red Bull asked me what the best training tool would be for me leading into the Olympics. At the start we were just going to build the hill as it’s the main focus at the SX events. But in the end with a lot of help had the budget to build a smaller version of the track.

bmxultra.com: If someone else wanted to do it how much money would they need to invest?
Luke: Roughly $100,000. We were lucky that a lot of companies chipped in to help, so we had a lot of things given to us. Without that and the help and support of friends and family it would have never happened.

bmxultra.com: Did you have to get council approval?
Luke: I had meetings with council to make sure I was not going to build it to be pulled down a week later.

bmxultra.com: Do you ever get complaints from the neighbours?
Luke: No, my neighbours are very supportive and it’s not like it’s very loud like motorbikes. We keep the noise to a minimum.

bmxultra.com: Did you ever expect to get so much media exposure over the track?
Luke: No. Once built, I think we had every newspaper and TV channel here to see what Red Bull had done. Even today I still get people asking about it and wanting to come ride here.

bmxultra.com: Do you think you will change your track to match the 2012 Olympics track?
Luke: No. I think being to prepared can be a bad thing. You can never build something exactly the same and out of all the replica tracks built before the Olympics, none were really that close to the final product. I also think they will keep the plans to this one hidden a little longer than last time.

bmxultra.com: What made you add a second start hill and straight?
Luke: I wanted anyone to be able to come ride and train here. With only one hill it was to hard for people to come and fully enjoy themselves unless they had a go of the 8M hill. It’s much easier now with the smaller hill to help all riders with training.

bmxultra.com: I have heard rumours that you were planning on running a race meeting on your track is there any truth to that?
Luke: I have had thoughts about it. I have a few ideas I would like to do so hopefully it all happens in the near future.

bmxultra.com: You track has been used as a training facility for a number of international BMX stars, name some of the big guns that have trained there?
Luke: Before the Olympics the Argentinian and Japanese teams came to train here for a week. So guys like Christian Becerine and Ramiro Marino. A few of the U.S guys were here earlier in the year racing and spent a couple of days here.

bmxultra.com: How much longer do you think you will keep the track for?
Luke: My parents have said they want to sell up in 4-5 years. So I either have to win lotto to buy it, or think of something new in that time.
Luke Madill

RedBull Under My Wings

bmxultra.com: How did the RedBull Under My Wings thing come about? Whose idea was it?
Luke: Red Bull’s. They had done it with Surfing and approached me to try it here with BMX. It’s a great idea to help kids know what to expect and how to prepare for making it in the future of the sport. Now I have a Gym, Sprint track and testing equipment, all the kids can really train every skill they need to be the best in the sport.

bmxultra.com: How were the riders selected?
Luke: From the NSW and QLD state titles then the first 2 champbike rounds.

bmxultra.com: Did it turn out the way you expected?
Luke: Better. Apart from one day of rain it all went really well. The kids gained a lot from it and that was the whole idea. The feedback we got from them saying how much we learnt made it all worth while.

bmxultra.com: What can you say about the riders who attended?
Luke: We had the best 14-16 year guys and girls in the country training and testing with each other. It was great to see how well they got along and how keen they were to learn. The racing was some of the best I had ever seen at the end of it all.

bmxultra.com: Any surprises?
Luke: How honest and also how supportive all the guys were towards myself and each other. I expected all of them to just want to ride off the SX hill everyday. But after taking them for a walk up, they came back down with a different attitude. The way the approached everyday was so positive.

bmxultra.com: Will it be on again?
Luke: Yes. We are not sure about this year yet but if not definitely next year.

The internet

bmxultra.com: What websites do you check out?
Luke: I used to mainly look at bmxmania.com and bmxultra.com. These days I try stay away from reading most websites.

bmxultra.com: What do you look for in a website?
Luke: One with fast up to date results and CORRECT information. It’s so sad to see so many made up stories today. Some of the things I read about from events that were on or about riders is crazy how half of it isn’t right. There is so many rumours out there that I don’t even believe half the things I read anymore.

bmxultra.com: Wow, I’d hate to think that bmxultra.com has become that sort of website.
Luke: It’s not the sites themselves, or the magazines, but the people who write into them. I actually like reading some of it and just wonder how they get there information so messed up. It’s great that people can have their say and opinion but wonder why it is far from the truth at times.

bmxultra.com: Did you notice that we used a photo of you in the background of bmxultra.com? (It shows up better on a wide screen monitor)
Luke: Yes I did notice this. Sweet photo, thanks mate.

bmxultra.com: How come you don’t have your own website yet?
Luke: I am not one that likes talking about myself haha. But I am in the process of getting one now. I receive a lot of emails asking about when I am holding clinics, dates and times. So I will use the website for this and some small updates on my own travels.

bmxultra.com: Do you have much traveling planned over the next 12 months?
Luke: I am currently in Darwin now holding some coaching clinics. I will also be in Gove and Alice Springs over the next week. I still have to head to Karratha in WA for the same thing then U.S and France for the next two SX rounds, then finish off in NZ for a UCI race. This all ends mid October then I can take some time off before it all starts again next year. Next year hopefully doing a lot more racing but also holding a few training camps in the school holidays for the kids.

Sponsorship

bmxultra.com: We hear there are changes going on at GT, how will that effect you?
Luke: CSG have taken over the distribution of GT Bicycles from Monza Imports in Australia. This will not affect my future in the sport.

bmxultra.com: Can you confirm or deny that you are going back to Norco?
Luke: HAHAHA that is even better than the Redline, and Redman rumor. This is what I mean. I would love to know where people get their information from? I have also heard I have a tattoo parlor, married, child, racing V8’s next year and sleep with every girl and mother  I speak to at BMX. I wish I could claim these things, but I am a BMX racer not a rock star.  Maybe I need to write a book.

bmxultra.com: Sorry the Norco thing was just a joke, I guess I need to work on my humour?
Luke: I think it’s all funny but I have heard the Norco one a few times.

bmxultra.com: Could you have done half of what you have managed to accomplish without sponsorship?
Luke: I think it’s possible but it would be a lot harder and adds a lot more stress. Sponsorship makes life easier don’t get me wrong. But having a sponsor doesn’t mean you get faster. It’s still hard work with or without them.

bmxultra.com: What advice could you tell riders who are looking for sponsorship?
Luke: Try and do yourself up a resume and start off at local bike shops before trying major Bike companies. It’s hard to find a sponsor these days so don’t be disappointed if it takes a while to be noticed.  Don’t think that getting a sponsor is going to make you any faster out there.

bmxultra.com: Is sponsorship all about getting free stuff and stickers to hand out?
Luke: Not at all. You have to earn it. There is more pressure on you once you get a sponsor as you are representing their company. Your actions on and off the track are being watched. It’s not all about winning but more about someone who is a role model for others to follow and want to use there product. If you can do all this then yes at the end of the day it always feels good when the courier drops off boxes of free things.

bmxultra.com: Who was your first sponsor?
Luke: RRR

bmxultra.com: Did they tell you why they picked you up?
Luke: I think I as 7 at the time so might have to ask my parents that one.

bmxultra.com: How did you manage to pick up the RedBull sponsorship?
Luke: They had just started to branch out in Australia looking for different sports. They were sponsoring an event in 2002 and then asked me in for an interview.

bmxultra.com: How did you manage to race at the Olympics with your helmet painted up in RedBull colours? I thought they had strict rules about advertising and branding on competitors?
Luke: Yes, you could not have logos from sponsors other than the manufacturer. My helmet was painted in Blue and silver squares and an Aussie flag on the peak. If you think in looked like a Red Bull can, then maybe that’s just smart on their behalf haha.

bmxultra.com: I see you picked up a little extra Speed on your way back from the Chula Vista Supercross race. How’s that working out for you?
Luke: Yep, didn’t that shock a few people that I wasn’t on a Redman, Redline or Norco haha. At this stage nothing has changed really. When I was in Chula I noticed a small stress crack in my GT. I did not want to risk it and Toby Henderson from VSI said he would give me a frame to use for Frejus a week later. He asked me if I would ride a Speed frame and at that stage I was not really fussed on what I had as I needed a frame. At this stage there is nothing 100% just yet on if I will be riding it next year. So I don’t really have anything new to tell you there.

bmxultra.com: We did a review on one a little while ago, nice ride, very stiff. As a coach and a pro rider how important is the feel and stiffness of a frame?
Luke: The bike surprised me all round. It looked better in real life then the pictures and felt great to ride. I am not one who likes stiff bikes. I understand that a stiffer bike should produce more power with less flex and from a pro riders point of view is a good thing, but I like to feel the bike flex a little. I am not to fussy when it comes to the feeling of a bike. Most bikes these days are the same geometry and I adapt to them pretty quick. But I do like my bike to look good and dialed in.

Luke Madill

Music

bmxultra.com: What music do you listen to these days?
Luke: I have been listening to a lot of old school R&B lately.

bmxultra.com: Do you buy CD’s or MP3’s?
Luke: Pretty much only MP3’s. I have been rooming with Brian Kirkham a lot on our team trips and he has hooked me up with some good places to download songs. I am pretty lost when it comes to the computer and internet.

bmxultra.com: Have you started listening to Neil Young yet?
Luke: Saving it for later in life.

bmxultra.com: What song do you use for your Supercross time trial runs?
Luke: I was using Queen’s Bicycle race. It was a bit of a joke at the start and then never changed it. I can not hear it when I am doing my lap so guess it just makes the guys after me think “what’s with that song?”, laugh and hopefully they loose focus haha.

bmxultra.com: Thanks for your time Luke and good luck with your racing.

Interview by Shane Jenkins/bmxultra.com November 17, 2010

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