The Sports Archives – The Most Inspirational Wheelchair Athletes Of All Time!

David Weir

With 22 Summer and 4 Winter Paralympic sports, and opportunities to compete from grass-roots, right up to international Olympic competition, para-sports are firm fixtures in every event calendar. Some sports are quite similar to those available for able-bodied athletes, others are modified to suit a whole range of disabilities. Every disabled athlete achieves and inspires in their own way, but here is a look at some of the wheelchair athletes that have made a big impact on Paralympic sport.

Great Britain Athletes

In the 2012 London Paralympics archives Team GB athletes achieved 3rd place on the medal table with 34 Gold, 43 Silver, and 43 Bronze. This was an outstanding performance, and with the continued personal bests, more medals, and world records that followed, Team GB disabled athletics is in a very good place today. Here are some of the best in the UK.

David Weir

Born without the use of his legs, Weir showed talent from an early age, and despite the lack of wheelchair sports available at the time, went on to win the junior wheelchair event at the London Marathon seven times.

Persistence, spirit, and determination, has seen him develop an outstanding career as an elite athlete, and he’s often labelled one of the greatest British paralympians of all time. His success lies in his intensive training and determination to succeed.

Weir competes in road and track events, and his growing list of accolades includes 6 Paralympic Medals, London Marathon medals of all colours, and countless appearances and achievements at IPC Grand Prix events, European and International competitions, and London Marathon gold medals.

His influence and inspiration has extended through Team GB, the international athletics community, and the Wier Archer Academy which he co-founded to help increase participation in disabled sport.

Tanni Grey-Thompson

A wheelchair user with spina bifida, this is one former athlete that needs no introduction. A household name after several decades as a wheelchair racer, with ongoing work on television, as a charity patron and athletic board member. She is also a life peer of the House Of Lords, and ambassador for sport, disabled sports, and women in sport.

Grey-Thompson certainly didn’t plan a quiet, relaxing retirement. After a career spanning several decades, numerous awards, and the fact she held over 30 world records and 15 paralympic medals, it’s easy to see why Tanni is not one to sit still for long.

International Athletes

On the world stage there are similar stories of triumph over adversity and achievement in wheelchair sports. Louise Sauvage, a wheelchair racer with a congenital spinal condition, is famous in her native Australia for a former racing career that spanned the 90’s and early 00’s. She achieved gold medals in the IAAF Word Athletics Championships, won medals in international track and marathon events, and medalled at her home Olympics in 2000. Now retired, Louise has inspired others through public speaking, coaching, and her role in elite development coaching for track and road wheelchair sport.

Proving that there are few limits to participation in wheelchair sport, fellow international athlete from South Africa, Ernst Van Dyk has had a career spanning both swimming, and more recently hand cycling. In this discipline he has topped the podium 9 times in the Boston Marathon, and also runs a company providing sports equipment for disabled athletes, all this despite being born without both his legs.

While some athletes are born with congenital disabilities, others become disabled through accidents, and that’s exactly what happened to US wheelchair rugby player and team captain Mark Zupan. He has been quad rugby national champion twice, and won bronze and gold medals at the Paralympic games. His inspirational biography is entitled ‘When Life Deals You A Crappy Hand You Can Fold – Or You Can Play’ – an ethos shared throughout the Paralympic community.

Whichever walk of life these athletes come from, or sport they compete in, there are common threads that link them all – a passion for the sport, an appreciation of the opportunities and experiences disabled sport has given them, and a determination to raise awareness and help the next generation of disabled athletes. That is inspiring to us all.

Featured images:

Patrick Boland is the Founder of You Bike, an exercise equipment company that specialises in equipment designed for sufferers of movement restricting problems such as strokes, Parkinsons, arthritis and obesity.

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The Sports Archives – Planning The Hickstead Derby Meeting

show jumping

Hickstead is an event that takes a lot of planning – from selecting staff to ensuring that there’s enough power to keep things running smoothly.

The Hickstead Derby Meeting is regularly cited as one of the most important show jumping events on the equestrian calendar. Riders from all over the world come to compete on its famous course, which features the Hickstead Bank, one of the most difficult jumps they can expect to face. It also draws huge spectator crowds too.

Last year around 35,000 people attended the show over the course of four days; a phenomenal success for the organisers of the event. Of course, with such large attendance figures comes a need for meticulous planning – so how much preparation is required for an event like this?

Staff and officials

Stewards, programme sellers and admissions staff are all firm fixtures at big events, but Hickstead needs more specialist staff too. At a show-jumping event archives such as this, there need to be a certain number of officials present. These include a Course Builder, a judge and writer, Tack Inspector, commentators and a time judge, among others.

The health and safety of spectators, competitors and everyone else involved in a show of this scale is incredibly important too. A Safety Officer will therefore be placed in charge of these proceedings. They should have the appropriate knowledge and experience, and consider health and safety at every stage of the event.

Facilities

The facilities on offer at the event take a lot of organising too. First of all, there’s seating for the spectators. Then there are hospitality areas – some of which may feature temporary structures, such as marquees.

Food and drink help to make a great good day, so caterers need to be selected too. Food needs to be prepared in areas that comply with the all the current hygiene regulations, and a licence is needed to sell alcohol. An event of this scale needs to have an adequate amount of medical supplies available, and fully trained First Aid personnel to provide treatment to anyone who needs it.

Last but not least are the toilets. Not particularly glamorous, we know – but an essential facility to have! Modern portable toilets are of such a high standard that they are on par with toilets in the finest hotels. Many have music, an array of soaps and moisturizers, hot air hand driers and they never run out of toilet paper!

All the hard work is worth it in the end

Once everything is up and running, it’s easy to forget just how much work can go into putting on a large event like this. Whether you watch it on TV or attend in person, your attention is probably going to be on the riders and their horses – not the work of the organisers!

Without all of this planning and hard graft, Hickstead would not be able to go ahead. When the winners are announced and everyone leaves after having a fantastic time though, it’s all worth it. Now, is it too early to start planning next year?

Featured images:

Power

An event like this needs a lot of power, which is where Templant come in. We’re providing the power generators for this year’s Hickstead Derby Meeting, so that both the competitors and attendees can enjoy the event as much as possible. Our services include complete event power design, support throughout the event and of course, fully qualified electricians carrying out the work. For such a prestigious event, a constant power supply from start to finish is essential.

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The Sports Archives – The Rise of Electronic Sports

“Sport” has existed nearly as long as there have been people on this planet. This should be no surprise – competitive interaction, cooperation, and the opportunity to achieve greatness are all thematic characteristics of any sport, and many would argue that rivalry and sportsmanship is instinctive in all of humanity. The sociocultural and economic development of competitive activities has seen the emergence of new sports that entirely redefine the parameters of competition. This is achieved by taking a prominent facet of everyday human life and transforming it into an instrument of competition through innovation. Perhaps the greatest example of this “competitive revolution” is the dominance of technology in the 21st Century, and the subsequent rise of electronically-based competitive sports, or E-Sports.

MLG

Major-League Gaming is the official competitive e-sports organization in the United States. It was founded in 2002 and has continually grown in following and influence since then. Its rise to prominence mirrors the development of technology and video gaming itself.

Beginning as early as the 1970’s, e-sports introduce a fresh field of competition to the world through technology. Though programming, mechanical engineering and various other computer-based team competitions do exist, “E-Sports” is a term primarily used encompass the realm of competitive video-gaming. Videogames by themselves are easily a source of competitive interaction between people, and early releases have even mirrored traits belonging to real world sports, whilst simultaneously embodying an original idea (this had held true since the introduction of Atari’s Pong in 1972). By 2015, videogames have come a long way since 2 white paddles and a dot bouncing around the screen. Some game systems like the Nintendo Wii and the Xbox Kinect have pioneered interactive motion technology, making videogame sports like bowling, golf, and even the Olympic Games more than just buttons on a controller. Users are expected to move and mimic, if only with a fraction of real-world accuracy, the actions that are depicted virtually onscreen. Endeavors from these consoles’ developers have been to enhance the experience of playing a virtual reality game and, for the most part, they have been successful. Virtual sports like Wiisports and Kinect Sports are not the core of E-Sports, however.

Super_Smash_Bros._Melee - NA_Boxart

Super Smash Bros. Melee would revolutionize competitive gaming and remain a worldwide favorite for over a decade after its initial release. Though later releases in the “Smash!” franchise feature improved graphics and a much broader selection of characters, the gameplay mechanics of Melee keep it a competitive favorite in tournaments.

So how can one distinguish, then, what is an E-Sport in the video gaming world? The answer lies in the following or reputation of a certain game, and how it alone has revolutionized sport-related competition in gaming culture. In 2001, a game was released for the Nintendo GameCube (1999) that bounded E-Sports into the eyes of the public. That game was Super Smash Brothers Melee, a Nintendo All-Stars fighting game that pitted revitalized renditions of people’s favorite characters of the 1980’s and 90’s against each other. For the first 4 years of its existence, Melee did not get a lot of major coverage – instead, it thrived within an enclosed, competitive player community. The competitive rules to SSBM would be slowly discovered in this time period, but its public popularity would spike early on, courtesy of Major-League Gaming (something of an E-Sport equivalent of MLB or the NFL) which was founded in 2002. By 2015, Super Smash Bros. Melee has a massive community following and all the momentum it needs to stay dominant in the world of competitive gaming – a revolutionary feat almost unheard of, considering the game itself is approaching its 14-year old anniversary. With a following of thousands and many more flocking in to acquire new interest in the game’s legacy, SSBM is the paragon of all that an E-Sport should be.

Mew2King/Smashcomp

Typically, Super Smash Bros. Melee tournaments take place in a multipurpose convention hall, but they have also been featured anywhere from a host’s basement to a community warehouse. The two competitive players holding controllers are Jason Zimmerman (Left) and Aziz Al-Yami (Right), known more popularly by their online aliases “Mew2King” and “Hax”, respectively.

Since Super Smash Bros. Melee, Major-League Gaming has been an umbrella organization dedicated to promoting competitive online sports. Many modern games, including StarCraft II, DOTA, and even large-scale bestsellers like Call of Duty have formulated their own competitive niches and become major sources of E-Sports coverage. With the direction the future is headed, Sports and E-Sports will soon rival each other as technology continues to accumulate global dominance, and fans of traditional sports cling to their legacy. It is sometimes difficult to imagine that a trend that did not exist competitively over 2 decades ago could rise so dramatically as to threaten a tradition that has existed for over a century. It certainly says something about what everyone thought of computers when they were first discovered.

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The Sports Archives – Be Your Own Captain – Tips for the Aspiring Boating Enthusiast

 

Boating

Having and sailing your own boat can be fun, relaxing and thrilling depending on why you’re doing it. Some folks just love the feeling of being on their boat somewhere out in the water, away from all the stress and demands of daily life. 

Others use their boat for business meetings – this can be important when you have very sensitive business deals to discuss. There are also those people who just love the thrill, the sounds of waters lapping against their boats, and the freedom that boating gives them and the idea of just them against the waters. 

Whichever category or class you fall into, there are boating tips that you ought to implement in order to stay safe and enjoy your boating adventures. 

Safety Should be a Priority

The first thing you need to do is make sure that safety is paramount. Acquire all the necessary safety kits as mandated by the US Coast Guard and relevant boating safety agencies. If you feel you have all these, but are still unsure, you could get a free boat check by the US Coast Guard. Safety also means wearing your life jacket at all times. 

These seemingly inconsequential items can often be the difference between life and death. Most drowning incidents are usually a result of victims not wearing their life jackets. So, as soon as you set foot in the boat, grab a life jacket and make sure there’s enough for everyone on board. 

Of equal importance is paying attention to the weather forecast. Unless you want to face stormy waters, beware venturing out into the water until the weather forecast is favorable. So, always check for weather conditions before taking your boat out and stay alert in case of sudden weather changes

Always Carry the Necessary Gear

Depending on your type of boat, you may need anything from anchors, to wet and dry suits, basic toolkits, ropes, vests, a tube inflator or a first aid kit to name a few. However, a key boating accessory that you should have is waterproof and dry bags like those provided by Adventure Lion

These bags are excellent for keeping your essentials dry. Adventure and extreme sports lovers who prefer kayaking, sailing, and whitewater rafting, will find this extremely useful for keeping their things away from moisture and water. 

So, whether you want to store your dry clothes so you can change after a day on the water or keep your cameras, phones, wristwatches and gadgets dry in your boat, these waterproof bags are crucial to your boating adventure. 

Be Cautious and Aware of Your Immediate Environs

Quite a few boating accidents have resulted from inattention. Once you’re on the water, you need to be extra vigilant. Watch out for abnormal objects in your immediate surroundings. Be careful about berthing your boat, tying the docking ropes properly, and the weather. 

Don’t Sail When Drunk

If you’re not supposed to drive when drunk or under the influence of narcotics or alcohol, it goes to reason that you shouldn’t do the same while sailing. Quite a few accidents, injuries or deaths are caused by the victims being under the influence. 

Luckily, there are laws against this. So, if you’re caught boating under the influence without causing anyone harm, you will either pay heavy fines or spend a few months in jail. However, if people were to become injured directly or indirectly because you were under the influence, you will go to prison.

Oscar is a reputable and experienced author with a unique and skillful approach to writing and blogging.

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The Sports Archives – Sports and Weather

peanutsrain

Charlie Brown is not amused.

The globe is an ever-changing place. Season-to-season, week-to-week, even day-to-day, its weather conditions are unpredictable, erratic, and, in many cases, adverse to sporting activities. The significance of weather (and, by extension, its “cooperation”) in the realm of sports and recreation is often overlooked by spectators and viewers. To the typical American family sitting down to the NFL’s Monday Night Football, the weather that evening only grabs anyone’s attention if it is undesirable – mainly to the point where the game is postponed or even cancelled. The presence of good weather is, likewise, neglected because it is just “what is supposed to happen.” After all, why even notice the weather if it isn’t going to affect the playability of a sport? Undoubtedly, weather holds more sway over where and when sporting activities may take place than most people would care to admit. However, because every sport is different in its rules and setting, some sports are more heavily affected by weather than others. This also means that there are quite a few sports that are not affected by the weather at all. What sports are the most influenced (or, more specifically, “burdened”) by weather conditions, and how precisely does the weather impact them?

The simplest answer to “what sports are really affected by weather?” is, obviously, “outdoor-related sporting activities.” Rain, snow, hail, and even winds on a clear day that are just too blustery are all primary influences on playing conditions for outdoor sports. After all, indoor sports unfold in an artificially-created environment – usually an enclosed building. As a result, people, not nature, have control over “whether the weather” is unsuitable for indoor sporting activities. Indoor sports, both casual, like table-tennis, and professional, like basketball, have never been cancelled due to bad weather happening outside of the structure in which they take place. The only situations where indoor sports are truly threatened by adverse weather is in extremely strong tropical storms, hurricanes, or thunderstorms that cause power outages. Otherwise, the indoor stadium/arena keeps the environment within it safe and separated from whatever is happening outside.

Full_field_w_soccer

The Indoor Sports Complex at Fort Collins, CO comes equipped with an indoor soccer field, protecting this sport (typically played outdoors) and its players from bad weather conditions.

When it comes to the outdoors, the specific rules and decisions involving the weather become blurred across different types of sport. The phrase “the show must go on” is a working guideline for sports in this sense, because the ultimate goal is for the game to play out as scheduled, provided that the safety of the players can be upheld and fair play ensured. Depending on the circumstances and setting of the sport, some are more ‘resilient’ in certain weather conditions than others. Thus, football games hosted by the NFL can generally persist through light-moderate rainfall and even snow. The popularity of football in the United States, as well as the rules and play format of the sport, are both contributing factors to ensure that the game endures. If severe thunderstorms and strong winds threaten play, football stands a much greater chance of cancellation. Outdoor sports that are more dependent on precision and technique are, consequently, more fragile in the face of bad weather; professional baseball, cricket, and tennis are all susceptible sports that are practically guaranteed to be cancelled due to rainfall. In rare cases, even temperature can have a serious influence on the playability of a sport. Extreme temperatures, both high and low, can prove hazardous to the health of athletes, resulting in the possibility of heatstroke or hypothermia. Though it is fairly uncommon, some sporting events have been cancelled due to the threat of it being too hot or too cold to play.

snowsport

Both soccer and American football are resilient sports, and can usually permit a game in light snow. Players will need to stay on their toes, however, because visibility is reduced, and they have an entirely new type of ground to deal with!

For the most part, strong weather conditions are regarded negatively among fans and players alike, but this is not always the nature of the relationship between weather and sports. In fact, many sports are dependent on some aspects of the weather to behave in a certain way. One prominent example of this is the connection between strong winds and water sports. Windsurfing and kitesurfing are heavily dependent on wind, requiring strong air flow to operate, even while other sports would prefer as little wind as possible. Additionally, a lightly-overcast playing field is often preferable to clear sky for outdoor sports. With a non-threatening blanket of clouds to obscure the area of play from the sun, visibility is improved across the board without the threat of rain.

r0_415_5184_3341_w1200_h678_fmax

Altered conditions of play aside, can you blame even a professional athlete for turning tail at merely the sight of this approaching the stadium?

Weather can affect sports, both outdoor and indoor, in a variety of ways. Each sport is influenced differently by adverse weather conditions, and gameplay for some is even improved, provided the weather is merciful and nonviolent. Unless outdoor sports are moved indoors in the future (a significant investment which, in the grand scheme of things, would probably be more trouble than its worth) nature will continue to influence the “how” and “where” sports are played.

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The Sports Archives – Preparing For Your First Scuba Diving Holiday!

Scuba Diving

If you want to embark on an overseas scuba diving archives holiday, perhaps your first scuba trip, there are two ways to do it. You can stay at a seaside resort where there is a base of scuba operations, or you can take a “liveaboard” vacation, staying on board a ship devoted to the purpose.

Staying Ashore…

For the more usual land-based holiday, most countries will have diving centres in a range of locations, some close to larger towns and cities where you can also take time off from your diving to enjoy the local tourist attractions or nightlife. Others are much more remote, where you can concentrate on your pastime without distraction. A land based scuba holiday may be most suitable for beginners to the sport.

…Or On Ship

A liveaboard holiday, on the other hand, is the most intensive way to go about it. You are permanently on site for diving, and can take your dives throughout the day, with the first one as early in the morning as you like, taking full advantage of the opportunities before he tropical day heats up, in unspoilt peace far from holidaymakers. A ship can take you much further away from civilization than you would otherwise be able to go, showing you places most ordinary scuba divers would not be able to reach.

There are many such scuba diving cruises available, providing a combination of first class diving, along with superb accommodation and luxurious comfort – and all meals and drinks – all within yards of the dive site. The ships will carry experienced instructors and guides, and will be able to provide PADI and other courses. Ships run by one of the larger diving companies will probably have some of the latest diving equipment available.

Requirements

Whichever method you choose, the basic preparations are the same. Above all you must ensure you have all the required certificates and documents that will be required before you pay for a diving holiday.

  • Qualified divers must bring proof of their qualifications and their log book.
  • All divers must be medically fit to take part in the sport, and some countries require a medical certificate before you will be allowed to take training or professional assistance. Even if that is not the case where you are going, check out the health requirements and seek medical advice if in doubt.
  • Remember also to take out travel insurance that specifically covers scuba diving. Even so, the standard travel policy may only cover you to a certain depth so check that will be enough; if not, a specialist insurance may be necessary.

Learners should undertake some pool training at home before flying off to increase your experience at your holiday location. Arrange your further training or guidance before you go, especially during your destination’s peak times, to be sure of obtaining a place and not being disappointed.

You must also choose the diving company with care, making sure to select one with a good reputation both within the industry and among past users.

Enjoy Your Holiday

A scuba diving holiday provides a world of excitement in underwater caves, discovering sunken ships, treasures and the ever beautiful coral reefs that abound in so many different parts of the world. Prepare well, and enjoy a holiday you will remember for the rest of your life!

Featured images:

Jeffrey Glenn is the founder Go Pro Asia, of one of Thailand’s most sort after professional dive training resorts. Jeffrey is a PADI Course Director and Technical Diving Instructor Trainer with over 20 years’ experience in the dive industry.

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The Sports Archives – ‘True’ Football’s Place in the United States

No one can deny that baseball and American football are the two most popular sports in the United States; they have both been a huge part of the nation’s sociocultural development for over a century, and their respective followings are only climbing over time. Yet, despite how popular each sport may become within the borders of the United States, neither of America’s most followed sporting phenomena are anywhere close to the Top 5 Sports Worldwide. Incontestably, the most popular sport on the planet is football, and, while this may come as a surprise to many Americans, the numbers don’t lie; football’s global following numbers in up to 3.5 billion people – almost 50% of the population! Even as the world progresses on the road to globalization, football (known as soccer in the U.S.) is one subject that has been continually alienated in the United States. Will America ever come to a point where they embrace football for what it is in the rest of the world?

football-vs-soccer-ball

The ball in the top left is acknowledged internationally a traditional “football.” In America, it is called a soccer ball. The ball in the bottom right is an American football. Could one reason that America is not embracing soccer as internationally as the rest of the world be simply because of a name disagreement?

It would by untruthful to say that nothing has changed for soccer over the 100+ years that the dominance of baseball and football has increased its hold on the American public. Perhaps the most prominent influence on soccer interest in the U.S. has been the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or “FIFA.” Established in 1904, FIFA is an international association dedicated to the large-scale promotion and organization of football. Perhaps their most crowning achievement is the FIFA World Cup, first implemented in 1930, that features a worldwide football competition between competing nations’ football teams. As of 2015, the FIFA World Cup permits 32 national teams to compete, but only 1 can rise to be the victor of the tournament. Through the World Cup itself and videogame channels, FIFA and its organized sporting events have done especially well in increasing the public interest of football in the United States, both directly and indirectly.

What, then, is holding the United States back from accepting soccer the same as most other nations of the world? There is no single answer to this question, but the primary reason that soccer is just not getting anywhere in the U.S. is because of the weight of the sport on American society.  While today soccer is still a perfectly prominent sport following in the U.S., America’s relationship with sporting activities has always been very nationally-focused, contrary to the international focus of most other countries around the world. The National Football League and Major League Baseball are the forerunning organizations involved in bringing sports coverage to the American public, and it is the nature of the United States populace to have more interest and give greater publicity to its national sporting powerhouses. The unfortunate side-effect of this “sports-nationalism” is that the United States Soccer Federation, comparable in role to the MLB and NFL for soccer, is often left in the dust by the media. Much to the dismay of U.S. soccer enthusiasts, American ‘football’ and baseball will remain the top dogs in the United States for the foreseeable future. The sociocultural influence and roots in American history owned by these two national pastimes are too significant to be overcome for now, even by an international phenomenon like football.

USSF_logo

The U.S.S.F. is committed to helping the American public embrace soccer as both an national and international sport.

America’s universal focus on national sports is the most consequential basis for the slow, petering climb of soccer’s popularity, though the cause of most secondary reasons can be traced back to this central point. America’s international soccer team, responsible for representing the United States in the FIFA World Cup every 4 years, is one of notably few areas where the U.S. does not stand out in performance. According to the FIFA/Coca-Cola rankings leaderboard, the United States is not even in the top 10 team positions, coming in more at the center of the pack at 27th place. This does not compare well with the U.S.’s 2nd place rankings for both the World Baseball Classic (baseball’s “world cup”) and the International Federation of American Football’s quadrennial world championships, respectively.

soccer stats

The top graph tracks the popularity of America’s top-tier sporting leagues in 2012 via % of the U.S. population. Major League Soccer is, sadly, still trailing behind the National Hockey League in terms of popularity. However, while this may seem bleak, the bottom graph demonstrates the casual growth rate of MLS followers (also by population percentage). The trend demonstrated is an increase of about 10% over the first 10 years of the 21st Century. Soccer is slowly getting more popular!

Ultimately, the United States is making national progress in embracing football, albeit slowly. Globalization has already taken hold of nearly every industry in existence, manifesting in the international production and distribution of goods, the enormous progression of worldwide communication and technological development over the last few decades, and many similar channels. The gaps between the nations of the world are in a constant state of decay, only becoming smaller over time. This is no different with the sports industry, which means that the rise in the U.S.’s international status in football is inevitable. It is only a question of when this status will fully come to fruition.

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