Things Are Happening – May 14, 2021

A. US Classic Roster

The roster for the US Classic has been released, and she’s a big old girl. This year, 42 seniors are registered for Classic, which is extremely high for an Olympic year. At this point, the crop of senior elites has usually been winnowed down to only those who are legitimately in contention for the team or are too young to have been destroyed. The last couple Olympic-year Classics had 24 and 21 seniors, so we’re nearly doubling what is typical, which can pretty much entirely be attributed to the Olympic delay and two whole years of new seniors who are just getting their first shot now.

The size of the senior roster has forced a format change and the addition of a second senior session. The junior session will now be Friday, May 21st at 6:45pm ET (FLO), so that the first senior session can replace it on the 22nd at 1:00pm ET, with the second senior session following at 7:00pm ET. Neither senior session will be on FLO, with the first session on Peacock and the second on NBCSN. So you’ll all survive.

SESSION ISESSION II
Skye BlakelyCiena Alipio
Sophia ButlerSydney Barros
Skylar DraserSimone Biles
Addison FattaJade Carey
eMjae FrazierJordan Chiles
Laurie HernandezKayla DiCello
Shilese JonesAmari Drayton
Hailey KleinKara Eaker
Temple LandryAleah Finnegan
Emma MalabuyoKaris German
Grace McCallumMorgan Hurd
Konnor McClainAlonna Kratzer
Chellsie MemmelEmily Lee
Elle MuellerSunisa Lee
Katelyn RosenLauren Little
Jamison SearsRiley McCusker
Ava SiegfeldtZoe Miller
Faith TorrezKaylen Morgan
Mya WitteAnya Pilgrim
Lexi ZeissLyden Saltness
MyKayla Skinner
Leanne Wong

The only significant absences in this senior field are Olivia Greaves and Lilly Lippeatt, both of whom already have their nationals qualifying scores. I do like that they didn’t fully hand-curate the sessions (if they had, Hernandez and Memmel would have been in the TV group with the other specials) because it will slightly reduce our fury at who is being shown and who is not during Simone Grip Hour.

I’ll preview the competition in the main next week, but the big deal here will be the Memmel moment, making her return to competition with some serious stakes attached because as far as we know she does not have a qualifying score and will need to use her performance at this meet alone to try to avoid another 2012 situation. Based on the last camp scores we got, Hernandez would also be qualified to nationals only on vault, beam, and floor and would need to get an AA score, but we also didn’t get scores from the last camp, so…

B. British Trials

Last weekend brought the final events of the women’s British Olympic trials series, which upended some things because Georgia-Mae Fenton won the first day and Ondine Achampong won the second, just like you predicted. (Grains of salt: a grand total of four people competed the all-around on both days of this latest competition.) The hit routines from the second day only—sigh—are available on their YT.

Neither Downie competed following the death of their brother last week, so in stunningly reasonable fashion, British Gymnastics has delayed selecting the British team to allow Becky Downie a chance to schedule another time to complete her final trial. The same consideration was extended to Ellie, but she decided to pass. It’s going to be very strange to see a British Olympic team without Ellie Downie, their best gymnast the entire quad.

If Becky hits bars to her capability in her final trials, there still should be a place for her on the highest-scoring British team, not to mention that would reconfirm her status as the team’s best individual medal hope.

Based on the six trials results so far and Euros, the peak best-scoring team would be Gadirova2, Kinsella, and Fenton, but a big bars score for Becky would see her replace Fenton on that highest-scoring-potential team. Morgan is also quite close and a very reasonable choice, but a lower vault difficulty tends to put her down in team permutations compared to what Fenton did at the last trials or what Kinsella did earlier in the year at previous trials, despite Morgan’s superior showing at Euros.

Another consideration may be that Jennifer Gadirova’s floor score at the most recent trials was quite low, so if she’s not fully back on floor yet, there may be concern over putting her on the same team as Becky. Almost like it’s not so helpful to try to pick a team based on people’s progress or health in early May.

C. Pan Ams

The Pan American Championships are still a go for Rio the first weekend of June, but Canada has decided to withdraw. That means Canada won’t have an opportunity to gain a +1 in addition to its four-woman team or an additional individual man to go along with Rene Cournoyer. Brazil will be especially optimistic about its chances to get a second woman into the Olympics now. Jessica Lopez is also confirmed on the competitors list.

The current plan for the US men is to show up for qualification—when the +1 Olympic spots will be decided—and then immediately get out of town before finals.

USAG just casually hasn’t announced the men’s team, even though we know it must have been selected ages ago because Whittenburg mentioned on social media that he was the alternate, but anyway, the team is Bock, Juda, Loos, and Guimaraes. They will go to Pan Ams to try to earn an Olympic spot that will almost surely be given to none of them.

D. Up Next

Japan

This weekend brings us the NHK Cup, the end of the road for Japanese Olympic team selection. The results of the NHK Cup will be combined with the two days of competition from All-Japan, and the top 3 in the all-around will automatically make Japan’s women’s team.

Then, among the people who finish 4th-8th in the all-around, their scores will be added to the qualifying three to see who creates the best team score, provided that individual contributes to the team total on at least two events. If no one fulfills that, then the 4th-place AAer will be selected to round out the team. Although, the selection procedures also say that the 4th spot can go to someone “recommended by the head coach.” Where was that in 2019, one might ask.

Murakami Mai and Hatakeda Hitomi are already in excellent shape heading into NHK, while Hiraiwa Yuna and Sugihara Aiko need solid competitions to confirm their spots, and Teramoto Asuka needs to nail it (with a big vault especially) to get back in the mix. To me, it’s incumbent upon Hiraiwa to stay top three to get an automatic spot, because otherwise the traditional team of Murakami, Hatakeda, Sugihara, and Teramoto…still pretty much looks like the best-scoring group. But when has Japanese selection ever matched what I thought was logical.

Women’s competition is on May 15th at 1:15pm local time (12:15am ET/9:15pm PT), with men’s competition on May 16th at 12:10pm local time (11:10pm ET/8:10pm PT). Live scores will be here.

The current situation for the men’s team is a little funkier because there are so many more opportunities for things to go wrong, but Hashimoto Daiki’s huge performance from the second day of All-Japan has put him in the best position, ahead of Tanigawa Wataru and Kaya Kazuma (all three of whom I’d want on my team). But there are basically 700 people who can jump into looking like realistic contenders with a good day at NHK.

L10 Nationals

The former JO Nationals is now known as the Developmental Program National Championships (not to be confused with developmental camps for prospective elites, because USAG has about three words and must name all things the same thing). The meet will run this weekend with junior and senior A, B, and C age groups on Saturday, and junior and senior D, E, and F age groups on Sunday. I’ll have a page for the results with the seniors’ college commitments, which is really the only reason to pay attention to it.

E. GymCastic

2021 US Nationals Recap, Starring Petition Drama GymCastic: The Gymnastics Podcast

US NATIONALS Morgan Hurd was not advanced to Olympic Trials. We discuss what Tom Forster said to the press about it, the confusion USAG fully brought on itself, and whether that decision actually makes sense Simone Biles. Gushing about the best parts of her 7th national championship Queen of Consistency Jordan Chiles and Queen of Bars Composition Sunisa Lee Who makes up the highest-scoring Olympic team based on nationals? Who's still in contention? Why Tom Forster's press conference was great news for MyKayla Skinner Did Grace McCallum and Kayla DiCello jeopardize their chances with falls at nationals? The latest on the Jade Carey Problem Highlight routines like Riley McCusker's bars and Emma Malabuyo's beam The US men earned a +1 Olympic spot at Pan Ams Brody Malone broke Sam Mikulak's streak to win the national championship Realistic team and specialist options for the men's Olympic team BATTLE POMMEL HORSE is on for Olympic Trials OLYMPIC TEAM NEWS Becky Downie will not be in Tokyo as Great Britain announced its women's team Kohei ALMOST didn't make the Olympics Rebeca Andrade dominated to make the Olympics The EQUIPMENT WARS have come to France Aliya Mustafina officially announced something we are choosing to ignore JOIN CLUB GYM NERD Join Club Gym Nerd or buy a gift membership for access to Behind the Scenes episodes. Behind The Scenes: Day Two US Women's Championships 2021 Behind The Scenes: Day One US Women's Championships 2021 Behind The Scenes: Gymnastics Time Warp Behind The Scenes: Sr. Session Two US Classic 2021 Behind The Scenes: Sr. Session One US Classic 2021 Buy our awesome clothing and gifts here. We have masks too! And Pride gear! RELATED EPISODES U.S. Nationals Preview & Kyle Shewfelt on his new book, Make It Happen Don't Sign National Team Agreement Until You Listen Simone Biles' Yurchenko Double Pike Has Landed and US Classic Review US Classic Preview Starring Chellsie and Simone Chinese and British Trial Chaos, and Project K: Decoding Romanian Secret Police Files on The Karolyis with Dr. Simona Petracovschi Unitard Revolution
  1. 2021 US Nationals Recap, Starring Petition Drama
  2. Day Two Women's Gymnastics Championships 2021
  3. Day One Women's Gymnastics Championships 2021
  4. Don't Sign National Team Agreement Until You Listen
  5. U.S. Nationals Preview plus Kyle Shewfelt on his new book, Make It Happen

51 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – May 14, 2021”

  1. My god that picture of Chellsie? Really? You couldnt find a better picture? The shade. She looks in her 70’s.

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    1. Not at all. I think on the women’s side in particular, Ava Stewart would have been very competitive to earn a +1 and I think Rose Woo and Laurie Dénommée would have been good backups in the event Stewart had a bad day. I think the men’s side would have been harder, but e.g. Cory Paterson did really well at Pan-Am Games in 2019, so I think there was a shot (and he wouldn’t have been the only one).

      It’s strictly about covid concerns. Canada lost about two months of vaccination time in January/February where we received almost no vaccine deliveries from manufacturers. Since then, we have really ramped things up, but because we are behind, we do have more new cases per capita than the US. We have been focusing on “first shot fast” to try to get as many people a first shot, but that means hardly anyone here is fully vaccinated so far. About 40% of the population has received a first shot, but my guess is most of this athletes are either not yet eligible to be vaccinated or just becoming eligible now. And that’s just for a first shot. So we would be talking about sending a number of unvaccinated people (or at most, partially vaccinated people) to Brazil, where the P1 variant is on the loose and vaccination rates are not high. Then when they come back, they would all be required to quarantine for two weeks and lose that training time too.

      It sounds like it was a hard decision for Gymnastics Canada and there was also an appeal by some(?) athletes and coaches, but the decision was upheld by an appeal board. A lot of areas in Canada are still under some pretty heavy restrictions, so as disappointed as I am about the Olympic chances, I completely understand why the decision was made.

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      1. Do you know how to find it on Peacock next week? Like will it be in the channels part of the app? (I’m still somewhat new to using Peacock)

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    1. No Olympics and no worlds either. Likely the death of her brother was a huge factor, but I also think she was much more injured than we expected given her poor scores in the earlier British trials this year. If Olympics were a far shot given injuries, best she heal both physically and emotionally for 2022 toward 2024. Given Jessica Gadirova and Alice Kinsella are locks and with Jennifer Gadirova on the highest scoring potential team for GBR with Morgan having a great Euros, both Downies were not making this team. Since Ellie can’t vault full difficulty due to injury she was all but eliminated. Becky still makes sense due to UB alone where she makes the team on that alone and is an individual medal hopeful.

      Sad for Ellie and I am hoping for full recovery into 2022 because with her at full strength plus the Gadirovas and Morgan, is a strong core group that can challenge for a team medal plus individual medals in the next quad.

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      1. I disagree on several things. Both Downies were making this team without favoritism being shown to Kinsella and without Ellie’s current injury being used to discount her two months in advance. (Yes, she chose not to do another trial according to what we’ve been told; that is quite unlikely to be the entire story, given Brit Gymnastics’ near vendetta against the Downies since their complaints.) She is, as Spencer observed, the best GB gymnast this entire quad and is the only one with any AA hopes whatsoever. Morgan is a competent four-event gymnast with *no* strong event and would only make sense on a team strong enough to challenge for a team medal, which this one cannot be without Ellie. I doubt Morgan will ever be strong enough in any individual event to get even close to an event final at Worlds or Olympics. Two Downies and two Gadirovas (all performing at their best, obviously) would have given them the best shot at a challenge. I hope Ellie bothers to continue another three years; the Downies’ saga with the reeking shitshow that is Brit Gymnastics doesn’t make me particularly sanguine.

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      2. But it sounds like “favoritism shown to Kinsella” was a given here so I can’t fault Ellie if her self-assessment of her prospects had Kinsella as a lock.

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      3. Ellie was their best AA gymnast. But if you are injured and not able to do your best then you are no longer the best AAer. It is obvious that she is not in the physical shape she needs to be in.
        Kinsella has performed extremely well and has earned a spot on the team.

        Some gymnasts always get unlucky with injuries before the games. Lorette Charpy was one of them, Ellie Downie is now another victim of the games being pushed forward one year.

        Your narrative that Ellie gave up because of a vendetta from British Gymnastics is bullshit. If she was STILL the best AAer, she would be on the team regardless of politics. If she was physically at 100% she would be on the team due to her strong AA and ability to medal on vault. Right now she can do neither.

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      4. “Ellie was their best AA gymnast. But if you are injured and not able to do your best then you are no longer the best AAer. It is obvious that she is not in the physical shape she needs to be in.”

        I think the person’s argument is that Ellie isn’t ready now, but would be by the time of the Olympics, and British Gymnastics insisting on choosing the team based on trials held months in advance of the actual Olympics is specifically to Ellie’s detriment (and not really to anyone else’s). She’s not in the physical shape that she needs to be in to meet an arbitrary deadline set by BG. She might well be in the physical shape necessary for the Olympics.

        And I agree. I doubt it’s part of BG having it out specifically for the Downies, but I could see how Ellie or Becky might interpret it that way, especially after the nonsense with the equipment, the publication of scores, and the obvious conflict of interest between Kinsella’s coach and the NT coordinator.

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      5. Christ on a bike. It’s almost like Kinsella has been doing this thing called ‘showing up to competitions and hitting her routines’. How DARE she make the Olympic squad over a one-event gymnast and an injured AA’er who isn’t performing like she used to? In entirely understandable circumstances, mind you, but still. The only “favoritism” being shown to Kinsella is the favoritism that comes with being a reasonably consistent, solid gymnast with TF-worthy scores. Y’all need to get over your Downie fixations, seriously.

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      6. To the Anonymous at 8:42 – I personally don’t have anything against Kinsella. I think she has done a great job during this process (and it’s nice that BG finally released scores so that we can see it 🙄).

        I do think that we should still criticize British Gymnastics and their processes, perhaps without invoking any gymnasts names. First, Colin Still should absolutely recuse himself from the selection process while his wife is coaching an athlete in contention. There shouldn’t be the opportunity to make accusations of favouritism. Second, beginning Trials in March (or February in the case of the men) is ridiculous, especially this year when a number of gyms in the UK were closed over the winter. Information that early is practically useless. Third, this process where some gymnasts compete AA and some events sometimes and no one is ever compared directly against each other is bizarre and doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Fourth, naming the final trial this early is stupid. Someone like Jennifer Gadirova is still getting over an injury and might not be ready now but could be in great shape a month from now. Same for someone like Ellie, setting aside the impact of the tragedy of last week. I’ve heard the excuse that it has to be this early because of the opportunity for appeals, but the appeals process only adds an extra two weeks on. They could still move this trial back a month, then decide the team on June 10 and name it on June 24.

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      7. Anonymous @5:30 AM No, your drivelling and utterly cretinous incomprehension of my argument (thanks, Anonymous 6:16 for explicating), your attempt to put words in my mouth, AND your naive faith in Brit Gym are REALLY some horseshit. “If she was STILL the best AAer, she would be on the team regardless of politics. If she was physically at 100% she would be on the team due to her strong AA and ability to medal on vault. ” This is so patently ludicrous it doesn’t even deserve discussion, but:
        You are really so goddamned dumb you’ve never heard of Sandy Woolsey, Kim Kelly, Dominique Moceanu, Vanessa Atler, Chellsie Memmel, Mattie Larson, etc? Yep, I guess you are. Your ‘narrative’ is the kind that protected Nassar for decades. FOAD!

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      8. @Anon Jeezus H. fucking KEERIST ON A CRUTCH. So the blatant conflicts of interest in which Kinsella is *marinating* do not exist? You really don’t even know who her coach is, who Colin Still is, etc? So coaches and political machinations have NEVER illegally influenced judges’ scoring of gymnasts? (The Karolyis are on line one for you, moron!) So the ridiculous scheduling of ‘trials’ months before the event has nothing to do with punishing the Downies who DARED to criticize the Brit Gym establishment? How about the bullshit last minute equipment change?
        Kinsella stans like you ignore the blatantly obvious and try to pretend there’s nothing to see here just because you want your little darling to make the team no matter what. You’re a real piece of work.

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    1. Do you think Barbosa can challenge Andrade for that spot? I’m really pulling for Andrade to qualify and have a phenomenal showing in Tokyo!!

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      1. Hi! I am not the one who has been asked the question, but, since you have gotten no answer so far, I would like to give you my point of view. Hope you don’t mind!

        I am a Brazilian fan of the sport and really like both Jade’s and Rebeca’s gymnastics. Personally, I think Rebeca has more chances of getting a spot than Jade.

        Rebeca has either the same (vault) or higher (the others three pieces of apparatus) start values than Jade. Moreover, Rebeca is cleaner in all of them.

        However, gymnastics is a really unpredictable sport, so we cannot count Jade out. I do hope the two gymnasts can do their best during qualification. If it really happens, Rebeca is more likely to get the spot.

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      2. @anon 8:58 – thanks for answering!! I’m pulling for Rebecca, and have no idea how she or Jade are looking currently.

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  2. So do yall think Chellsie will qualify to nationals? What is the 2 – 3 or aa score she needs ? I remember 2012. lol Will there be riots of all the Chell Yeah tank toppers if she doesnt? lol

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    1. Officially? She needs a 52.0 AA score, a 39.75 score on 3 events or a 27.0 score on 2 events. Chellsie is reportedly not doing AA at Classic (she said most likely just beam and vault…bars sounded like a maybe but not super likely). If they were doing things by the book, that would mean she would only be able to do those events at Nationals if she got the score.

      Unofficially? I assume she is going to try to petition to do AA at Nationals. Frankly, they have allowed petitions on far shakier ground from far less accomplished gymnasts. But even so, I think it’s worth watching the score above for however many events she competes because that might give a sense of whether her petition is likely to be successful or not.

      Tom definitely seems more flexible than Marta and I’m sure USAG wants the good publicity from this comeback, so my guess is they will find a way to get her to Nationals unless she really falls apart. Having vault as one of her events helps because vault scores high.

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      1. Probably just VT and BB and compete those at Nationals.
        Memmel stated she is not going for the Olympics, however, she would try for Worlds in the fall. She can always make the NT at a later camp and with a likely mass exodus of gymnasts heading to NCAA in the fall, she would likely get named. She still doesn’t have to do AA to make Worlds either.

        But that has always been Memmel’s approach, slow and steady and peak at the right time.

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  3. Hopefully Chellsie’s comeback is significantly less superficial than the initial posts here, lol.

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  4. The livestream may be chaotic as hell, but I actually find JO nationals to be an enjoyable watch. Can you figure out who the hell anyone is? No, but you get to see some good gymnastics and it’s a very cheerful and wholesome atmosphere.

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  5. Someone replied saying Chellsie stated she isnt trying for Tokyo. Link? Where did she say that?

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    1. Chellsie stated in one of her training videos that the goal is not the Olympics, but Worlds is an option they are entertaining seriously.

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      1. Well, it may not be the goal, but if she ended up looking great, I don’t think she would turn it down.

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      2. Yeah, I assume she said that to clarify that she wasn’t going to drop her elite comeback if she didn’t make Trials/the Olympic Team. Which is cool. IMO just making nationals in your 30s in the US would be a big accomplishment, good for Chellsie and for the sport.

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      3. I think very smart to hold off on retiring after the Olympics and going for the 2021 worlds. With the mass exodus of US gymnasts, there are going to be a lot of spots open for those who are sticking it out.

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    2. I know she stated Tokyo wasn’t her only goal. She wants to continue competing after that

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  6. Kinsella and Jess are locks. For me it’s almost impossible to choose between Georgia-Mae, Jenn and Becky for the last spots. I really hope they all travel to Tokyo and the alternate to be decided just after PT.

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    1. That’s not possible with the Olympics. Alternates don’t get to do podium training at the Olympics like at Worlds. And I question whether they will even be allowed into Japan given the situation with Covid.

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      1. Not to mention cruel – don’t take someone all the way to the Olympics just to sideline them at the last minute, unless they’re MyKayla Skinner.

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    2. I don’t know why Team GB would want to prioritize the team over individuals. Jessica Gadirova can make the floor final, a healthy Ellie can make the vault final, and Becky of course can make the bars final. I can’t figure out why that’s not their starting place. GB will never be able to cobble together 12 consistent routines for a usable team final score so they might as well put all their eggs in the event final basket.

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      1. I agree that they should be prioritizing individuals, especially since the goal of British Gymnastics is to bring home a medal from the women’s event. I think they are highly unlikely to get a medal from the team event. Individual medals are much more likely.

        Now that said, Ellie Downie, as noted, is taking time away from the sport and has withdrawn from the process, so she isn’t an option anymore. But in normal circumstances, I would agree.

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      2. The biggest question is if Ellie would still have declined a trials invite if it was held two months from now. A family death is so sad and traumatic that having to make a decision about trials now is next to impossible for the Downie sisters. I can’t imagine having to compete in such a high-stakes event after sustaining such a loss.

        It’s very possible that in a couple months from now Ellie would be in a different place mentally and physically. Plus, GB would be very wise to hold out on their second-best chance at an Olympic medal behind Becky.

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