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Helen Glover (rower)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Helen Glover
Helen Glover with 2012 Olympic Gold medal.jpg
Glover showing her gold medal from the 2012 Summer Olympics
Personal information
Full nameHelen Rachel Mary Glover
Born (1986-06-17) 17 June 1986 (age 33)
Truro, Cornwall, England
ResidenceBuckinghamshire, England[1]
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[2]
Weight70 kg (154 lb)[2]
Country Great Britain
Turned pro2010
PartnerHeather Stanning 2010–12, 2014–
Polly Swann 2013–2014
Coached byPaul Stannard 2008–10
Robin Williams 2010–13, 2014
Paul Thompson 2014
Achievements and titles
World finalsChampion (W2-) 2013, 2014, 2015
Olympic finalsChampion (W2-) 2012, 2016
Highest world rankingWorld #1 female in 2014
Personal best(s)6:50.61 at 2014 World Rowing Championships (WR)

Helen Glover MBE (born 17 June 1986) is a British professional rower and a member of the Great Britain Rowing Team.[2] Ranked the number 1 female rower in the world since 2015, she is a two time Olympic champion, triple World champion, quintuple World Cup champion and triple European champion. As of June 2016, she and her partner Heather Stanning were the World, Olympic, World Cup and European record holders, plus the reigning Olympic, World and European champions in the women's coxless pairs. She has also been a British champion in both women's fours and quad sculls.[3]

At the 2012 Summer Olympics, in partnership with Heather Stanning, she set the Olympic record and won the gold medal in the women's coxless pairs, the inaugural gold medal won by Team GB in 2012 and the first Olympic gold medal for British women's rowing. At the 2013 World Rowing Championships in South Korea, she became the world champion with her partner Polly Swann, with whom she also won the 2014 European Rowing Championships at Belgrade and thus became the first woman to hold the Olympic, World and European titles for the coxless pair.

She retained her world title and set the world record time in partnership with Heather Stanning at the 2014 World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam. They retained their world title at the 2015 World Rowing Championships in Lac d'Aiguebelette, France. In 2016, they retained their European title at Brandenburg an der Havel, set the World Rowing Cup record time at Poznan and again won gold in the Olympics.

She won the BBC Olympic Superstars game show.[4]

Early life


Glover was born in Treliske Hospital, Truro to Rachel (née Tucker), a physiotherapist who trained at Guy's Hospital, and Jimmy Glover, a school teacher and Oxford University graduate. She grew up in Penzance in a competitive athletic family with older brother Benjamin (medical doctor), younger twin brother Nathan (political organiser and entrepreneur[5]) and younger sisters Ruth (nursery nurse) and Freya (medical student).[6][7]

Her father is a retired school teacher (English) turned ice cream vendor. 'Jelbert's Ices' of Newlyn was started by Glover's great grandfather. He was an all-round sportsman who played tennis at Junior Wimbledon, played football for Penzance 'Magpies' FC and captained the Penzance Pirates rugby team. He also captained the University of Oxford in both the 1960 Varsity Match and against South Africa;he made 199 appearances for Bristol; played for 'Devon & Cornwall' against the 'All Blacks'; played for the Barbarians; and captained Cornwall in the County Championship whilst winning 41 caps.[8][9][10]


Educated at Heamoor Community Primary School and Humphry Davy School in Penzance,[11][12] Glover won a sports scholarship to Millfield School in Somerset between 2002 and 2004 due to her running and hockey prowess.[13] She participated in a variety of sports: as a junior she ran cross-country and middle distance track both for Cornwall and internationally for England, winning a junior international gold medal for England in cross-country running; she played tennis for Cornwall; she swam for Cornwall; she captained the Cornish hockey team; and by the age of 14 was part of the England Satellite Squad for Hockey. Her best UK athletic rankings were 23rd for 800 metres, 9th for 1500 metres and 18th for 3000 metres.[4][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

Her former PE teacher, Kate Finch, said: "She always had this phenomenal all-round talent, totally committed and totally reliable. You knew if you had Helen in any team you were safe. She took part in everything. She excelled in hockey and cross country. Helen was so hard working and so coachable. If you asked her to do something, she would do it."[21]

Glover said, "When I was at school I was quite strong-minded, I started up sports teams, I played in the boys’ football team. I wouldn’t let anyone tell me I couldn’t do anything,".[22]

At University of Wales Institute, Cardiff Glover studied Sport and Exercise Science, and then studied for a PGCE at the University College Plymouth St Mark & St John, in order to teach physical education to secondary school children.


In July 2008, between graduating from the University of Wales and starting at University College Plymouth, Glover, at her mother's suggestion, applied to the Sporting Giants scheme, whereby she was placed on GB Rowing Team's "Start" programme under coach Paul Stannard at Minerva Bath Rowing Club in Bath, Somerset. Thus, whilst attending University College in Plymouth, she transferred her 'teaching placement' to Oldfield School, Bath. After winning Olympic gold she confessed to having achieved the Sporting Giant criterion of 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) by standing on tiptoes while being measured – she is 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m).[2][23][24][25][26][27][28]

She was fourth at the British Indoor Rowing Championships on 26 October 2008.[29]


In 2009, she won the Bernard Churcher Trophy in the senior single scull at the Henley Women's Regatta.[30]


In February 2010, Glover gave up her teaching job and lived with no income while focussing exclusively on training for the national team selection trials. In March she rowed with the Reading University eight and finished third at the Women's Eights Head of the River Race.[31] In April she finished 5th at the GB Rowing Team Senior Trials, won a place on the team, gained Lottery funding and was paired with Heather Stanning in the women's coxless pair.[32] In May at the World Rowing Cup in Bled they finished 9th, and in June they finished 5th at Munich, but were unable to race at Lucerne in July due to Glover's illness.

Robin Williams started coaching Glover and Stanning in July when they were ranked 16th and 17th in their event, and were also regarded as reserves for the women's eight. They improved so rapidly that by November they won a silver medal at the 2010 World Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro in New Zealand, finishing in 7:20.24 three seconds behind Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown of New Zealand.[2][33][34]


In 2011, Glover and Stanning won the coxless pair event at the GB Rowing Team Senior Trials at Eton-Dorney with a time of 7 minutes 15 seconds. They went on to win both the Munich and Lucerne World Rowing Cup regattas, beating the reigning world champions Haigh and Scown of New Zealand. Great Britain did not enter round 2 of the World Cup in Hamburg due to an E. coli outbreak in the area.[35]

Glover and Stanning finished second in the 2011 World Rowing Championships at Lake Bled, Slovenia, 0.1 seconds behind the winning New Zealand crew of Haigh and Scown, despite both getting a stomach bug when they arrived in Slovenia.[2][36] Their coach Robin Williams described it as "a gold medal performance without getting the gold medal". In 2015, after retaining their world championship, Stanning said “Thinking back four years we were clear water ahead but lost it on the line. We certainly haven’t forgotten that lesson."[33][37]


In 2012, Glover and Stanning again won the coxless pair event at the GB Rowing Team selection trials at Eton Dorney on 10–11 March, and went on to complete a clean sweep of all three events in the women's coxless pair of the World Rowing Cup. Winning gold at Belgrade Sava, Serbia in May; Lucerne Rotsee, Switzerland in May; and Munich Oberschleissheim, Germany in June.[38][39]

On 1 August 2012, Glover and Stanning won the gold medal in the women's coxless pair at the 2012 Summer Olympicss. Having already set a new Olympic record of 6 minutes 57.29 seconds in the heats, they finished the final ahead of Kate Hornsey and Sarah Tait of Australia, and Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown of New Zealand.[40][41][42] The architect of their victory, coach Robin Williams, had prepared them for the final by engaging them in the word game Boggle for 45 minutes before their final call.[34] This was Team GB's first gold medal of London 2012, and the first ever Olympic gold medal for British women's rowing.[40][41] As with other gold medal winners, Royal Mail issued a commemorative stamp showing their celebrations, plus painting a post box gold in her home town of Penzance.[43][44] Within a week of winning her medal she broke it and thus received a replacement.[22]

In December, Glover became the women's champion of the BBC's Olympic Superstars 2012 after winning the 800-metre run in 2 mins 24 seconds, plus the swimming, cycling and gym rounds – she also out-performed the men in both the swimming and gym rounds. The Daily Telegraph described her as the "nicely-spoken pony-tailed epitome of the sporting Englishwoman".[4][18]


In April 2013, Glover won the women's single scull at the GB Rowing Team Trials held at the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake, Caversham, Berkshire.[45]

Teamed with Polly Swann in the women's coxless pair, Glover completed a second clean sweep of three victories at the World Rowing Cup, winning gold at Penrith Lakes, Australia in March; Eton Dorney, London in June; and Lucerne Rotsee in July. Glover said "I wanted Polly to know that she wasn’t just a Heather substitute, she wasn't just filling in. ... when Polly and I raced together for the first time and we were fast it was very exciting. I had to adapt. Polly can provide enormous power all the way down the course, but our final product was not a million miles from the way Heather and I raced."[39][45][46]

In July at the Henley Royal Regatta she teamed up with Polly Swann, Victoria Meyer-Laker and Frances Houghton to win the Princess Grace Challenge Cup for women's quadruple scull. Competing as Leander Club and Minerva Bath Rowing Club they completed the final course in 6 minutes 59 seconds.[47]

On 31 August, teamed with Polly Swann in the women's coxless pair, she became the world champion at the 2013 World Rowing Championships at Chungju in South Korea. They completed the final in 7 mins 22.82 secs, finishing ahead of Roxana Cogianu and Nicoleta Albu of Romania, and having overhauled the American boat which had led briefly in the early stages.[48][49]

In September 2013, she was the International Rowing Federation's Athlete of the Month and featured on its World Rowing site.[17] Sir David Tanner, British Rowing performance director, said "Nuggets are individuals that you can't always programme. We may never find another Helen Glover who progresses so rapidly."[50]

In December 2013, Glover and Swann were voted as Team of the Year by the SportsSister organisation; additionally Glover won the 'Readers Choice' vote. Glover and Swann also received the Chairman's award from the Sports Journalists' Association (SJA).[51][52]


On 17 March 2014, Glover was part of the composite crew that won the Women's Eights Head of the River Race on the River Thames in London, setting a record time of 17:42.2 for the 4 1⁄4-mile (6.8 km) Championship Course from Mortlake to Putney. The crew comprised Heather Stanning – Army RC; Beth Rodford – Gloucester RC; Zoe Lee – Imperial College BC; Jessica Eddie – London RC; Helen Glover – Minerva-Bath RC; Olivia Carnegie-Brown – Oxford Brookes University BC; Tina Stiller – Tees RC; Caragh McMurtry – Reading University BC; cox Phelan HillLeander Club.[53]

On 19 April 2014, Glover and Heather Stanning, coached by Paul Thompson, won the women's pair at the British rowing trials at Caversham; they took seven minutes 56.08 seconds and finished 1.14 seconds ahead of Polly Swann and Jessica Eddie. Stanning said "It was brilliant to be back racing with Helen. It feels like old times, but at the same time it's so refreshing because we've both learnt new things while we've been apart."[54][55]

In May, Stanning's training schedule was reduced in intensity, causing her to be replaced by Polly Swann for the European Rowing Championships at Ada Ciganlija, Belgrade on 30 May.[56] In their heat Swann and Glover set a new European best time of 7 minutes 9 seconds, and in the final on 1 June they lowered it to 7 minutes 3.62 seconds, finishing 5 seconds ahead of the reigning European champion Christina Grigoras and Laura Oprea of Romania. This made Glover the first British rower to hold the Olympic, World and European titles simultaneously.[57][58][59][60]

Teamed with Heather Stanning in the women's coxless pair, Glover won gold at the second and third rounds of the World Rowing Cup at Lac d'Aiguebelette in France in June and Lucerne Rotsee on 13 July, which also clinched the overall title despite TeamGB not entering the first event in Australia in March. At Aiguebelette they qualified directly for the final which they completed in 7 minutes 6.9 seconds, finishing two seconds ahead of the Americans Grace Luczak and world number one ranked rower Caroline Lind.[61][62] At Lucerne they again qualified directly for the final which, despite Glover's illness, they completed in 7 minutes 12.99 seconds, finishing a length ahead of the New Zealand 2 crew of Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler.[63][64][65][66][67][68]

On 30 September, Glover, partnered by Heather Stanning, retained her world title at the 2014 World Rowing Championships held at the Bosbaan, Amsterdam. They won both their heat and the semi-final and set a new world record time of 6:50.61 in the final, breaking the 2002,[69][70] record by three seconds, the 6:53.80 set by the Romanians Georgeta Andrunache and Viorica Susanu at Lucerne, Switzerland. They defeated the silver medallists, Megan Kalmoe and Kerry Simmonds of the United States, by over two seconds. Glover said: "I knew we were ready but there was so much expectation, so winning is definitely a relief."[69][70][71][72]

At the British Rowing Championships on 18–19 October at Holme Pierrepont (Nottingham), Glover was part of the composite crew that won gold in both the women's fours sweep event and the quad sculls. Racing under the acronym LIMA, the crew comprised: Jessica Eddie – London RC; Zoe Lee – Imperial College BC; Helen Glover – Minerva-Bath RC; and Heather Stanning – Army RC.[3][73][74]

At the end of 2014, Glover was officially ranked #2 female rower in the world by World Rowing, behind Caroline Lind and ahead of Meghan Musnicki.[61][62]


On 14 February 2015, Glover recorded her first victory in the GB Rowing, single scull, open-weight assessment trial held on the River Witham at Boston, Lincolnshire. She completed the 5-kilometre course in 20 minutes 16 seconds, finishing 14 seconds clear of nearest rival Katherine Grainger. [75][76]

On 14 March 2015, Glover was part of the composite crew that won the Women's Eights Head of the River Race on the River Thames in London, setting a time of 18:58.6 for the 4 1⁄4-mile (6.8 km) Championship Course from Mortlake to Putney. The crew comprised: Heather Stanning – Army RC; Helen Glover – Minerva-Bath RC; Zoe Lee – Imperial College BC; Katherine Grainger – Marlow RC; Melanie Wilson – Imperial College BC; Caragh McMurtry – Southampton Coalporters ARC; Olivia Carnegie-Brown – Oxford Brookes University BC; Jessica Eddie – London RC; cox Phelan HillLeander Club.[77][78]

On 19 April 2015, Glover and Heather Stanning won the women's pair at the British rowing trials at Caversham, they took 7 minutes 36.09 seconds and finished ten seconds ahead of Jessica Eddie and Louisa Reeve, followed by Katie Greves and Zoe Lee. Glover said: "We not only have great respect for each other as athletes but we are great friends on and off the water. I can genuinely say I want to win these races as much for Heather as for myself. We know how much we put into every session – it isn’t just our day job, it’s our passion."[79]

On 31 May, Glover, partnered by Heather Stanning, retained her European title at the 2015 European Rowing Championships held in Poznan Poland. They won both their heat and the semi-final and set a new European record time of 6:58.28 in the final. They defeated the silver medallists, Noemie Kober and Marie Le Nepvou of the Netherlands, by over six seconds. Glover said: "It's good to keep tallying them up and keep it exciting, but we don't go flat out on the start line thinking the aim of the day is to break records." Quadruple Olympic gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent, reporting in The Times, described Glover and Stanning as "within reach of sporting immortality".[80][81][82][83]

On 21 June, Glover and Stanning won gold in the women's coxless pair at the second round of the World Rowing Cup at Lake Varese in Italy. Their winning time, 06:53.67, was half a second off the World Cup Best Time, defeating Megan Kalmoe and Kerry Simmonds of USA 2 by 1.6 seconds, less than a length.[84][85][86] On 12 July they again won gold at the third round of the World Rowing Cup, at Lake Rotsee in Lucerne, which also gave them overall victory in the World Cup series, Glover's fifth series win in five years. They finished in 6:57.59 minutes, defeating Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler of New Zealand by 2.7 seconds.[87][88][89]

Glover and Stanning retained their World title at the 2015 World Rowing Championships in Lac d'Aiguebelette, France, on 5 September. They won their heat in 7:04 minutes and qualified directly for the semi-final which they won in 07:06 minutes. They lead the final from the start and finished in 6:52.99, 2 seconds outside their own world record, defeating the New Zealand silver medalists, Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler, by 3.8 seconds. Multiple Olympic gold medalist Sir Steve Redgrave said "Glover and Stanning dominate any combination that is put up against them.", whilst their coach Robin Williams said “The coach shouldn’t be that impressed I suppose, since I see them every day, but I’m just lost for words, quite stunning.”. Sir David Tanner, British Rowing's performance director, declared it “one of the best GB performances of all-time ... utterly exceptional,”.[37][90][91][92][93]

After retaining her world title in 2015, Glover was officially ranked #1 female rower in the world by World Rowing, ahead of Americans Lauren Schmetterling and Amanda Polk.[61]

On 20 November 2015, the World Rowing Federation (FISA) announced that Glover and Stanning had won the award for '2015 World Rowing Female Crew of the Year'.[94]


Glover and Stanning were the dominant women's pair in the GB Team Selection Trials held at the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake at Caversham over 22–23 March 2016. They finished in 7 minutes 13 seconds, ten seconds ahead of Polly Swann and Jessica Eddy. Glover commented that it was "... the start of the season, rather than a peak ..." and Stanning noted their "great working combination with coach Robin (Williams)," and the "excitement of getting back into the boat each year."[95][96]

On 8 May 2016, Glover and Stanning won the European Rowing Championships at Brandenburg an der Havel to retain their European title. In windy conditions they completed the final in 7 minutes 35.93 seconds, eight seconds ahead of Kerstin Hartmann and Kathrin Marchand of Germany. Glover told the BBC that "There were waves coming over my back at the start but racing here has up-skilled us. We may have cross-wind conditions at the Rio Olympics so it was good to race in them."[97][98]

In the World Rowing Cup II at Lucerne, Switzerland, from 27–29 May, Glover and Stanning won both their heat and their semi-final but were unable to start in the final due to Stanning's sickness.[99][100]

On 19 June 2016, Glover and Stanning won the final of the World Cup III event at Poznan, Poland, setting a new World Cup Best time of 6 minutes 52.79 seconds to finish 1.6 seconds ahead of the newly crowned World Cup Champions – Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown of New Zealand. Although undefeated in the World Cup series, Glover and Stanning did not enter the first round at Varese, and did not start the final of round II at Lucerne due to sickness, thus they did not accrue sufficient points for overall series victory.[101][102][103][104]

On 12 August, Glover and Stanning won the Olympic final in Rio de Janeiro.[105]

Personal life

On 16 September 2015, Glover and TV naturalist Steve Backshall announced their engagement on Twitter from Namibia, having met at a Sport Relief event in 2014.[106][107][108] They married on 10 September 2016 at Piskies Cove in West Cornwall.[109]

On 13 March 2018 it was announced that Backshall and Glover were expecting twins.[110] On 9 April Glover stated that one of the twins had died, but that she and Backshall were "hopeful for the remaining baby to arrive this summer".[111] On 24 July 2018 Glover announced on social media that she had given birth to a baby boy.[112] Then on 16 January 2020 she gave birth to twins (a boy and a girl).[113]


Glover was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to rowing, which she received from Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on 10 April 2013.[114][115]

In August 2012, her Olympic victory was marked by Royal Mail which issued a commemorative postage stamp and painted a post box gold on Quay Street, Penzance (50°06′58″N 5°31′52″W / 50.1161°N 5.5310°W / 50.1161; -5.5310 (Helen Glover, Penzance)).[43][44]

On 26 June 2013, she was awarded a Blue Peter badge, and on 26 September 2014, she was also awarded a Blue Peter gold badge.[116][117]

In August 2013, fuchsia "Helen Glover" was awarded Certificate 8162 by the American Fuchsia Society. It was hybridized by W.E.Negus (Ernie) of Hayle Cornwall, and is described as a single flower containing a light violet corolla, a light rose tube and a yellowish white sepal redolent of Cornish ice cream.[118][119][120]

On 27 March 2016, Glover and Stanning presented winners' trophies to the Cambridge men's and Oxford women's crews in the Varsity Boat Races.

Glover, along with husband Steve Backshall is also an ambassador for The Scouts.


  • 1st – GB Rowing Team Trials, Eton Dorney, 10–11 March, coxless pair.
  • 1st – World Rowing Cup, Belgrade, coxless pair.
  • 1st – World Rowing Cup, Lucerne, coxless pair.
  • 1st – World Rowing Cup, Munich, coxless pair.
  • 1st – 2012 Summer Olympics, London, 1 August, Coxless pair. Olympic record time.

See also


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  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Helen Glover". Biographies. British Rowing. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "Lima crew take quads gold as poor weather interrupts British Rowing Championships".
  4. ^ a b c "Olympians Anthony Joshua and Helen Glover crowned champions of Superstars".
  5. ^ "Agent November".
  6. ^ "Rachel Glover – Facebook".
  7. ^ "Cornishman sport extra – March 24". 18 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "WAITING FOR THE 28 CARAT GOLD FAIRY HELEN? – Cornwall Community News".
  9. ^ "Father pays tribute to Helen's work ethic". 23 August 2012.
  10. ^ "Penzance Olympic gold medal winner Helen Glover thanks supporters". 3 August 2012.
  11. ^ Davies, Interview: Gareth A. "Helen Glover, Olympic gold rower: my school sport".
  12. ^ "Olympic gold rower Helen Glover's 'phenomenal talent'". BBC. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  13. ^ "Old Millfieldian Society, OM of the Year 2012, Profile of Helen Glover". Archived from the original on 23 January 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  14. ^ "Helen Glover". London 2012. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
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  20. ^ "Absolutely brilliant gold medal performance in the rowing from former CAC athlete Helen Glover at the London Olympics – Cornwall Athletic Club News".
  21. ^ "Olympic gold rower Helen Glover's 'phenomenal talent'". 1 August 2012 – via
  22. ^ a b "Olympic gold medallist Helen Glover: Young girls face 'peer pressure' to drop out of sport".
  23. ^ "Olympic rower Helen Glover returns to Oldfield School to open sports centre". Bath Chronicle. 26 November 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
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  28. ^ "Listen again to @Helenglovergb talking about her childhood in Cornwall".
  29. ^ "British Indoor Rowing Championships – BIRC 2008". Archived from the original on 28 July 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  30. ^ a b, Digital Virtue – w. "HWR – Previous Winners". Archived from the original on 20 July 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  31. ^ a b Women's Eights Head of the River Race, Official Results Archive. 2010 PDF Archived 15 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ "For Olympic rowing champion Helen Glover, her golden season continues at the Head of the Charles Regatta".
  33. ^ a b c "Interview – Team GB rowing coach Robin Williams". 18 November 2012. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  34. ^ a b "Henley on Thames News – Rowing coach with the golden touch". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014.
  35. ^ Cross, Martin (8 June 2011). "Britain pull out of Rowing World Cup in Hamburg over E coli fears" – via The Guardian.
  36. ^ Sport Magazine, 28 May 2015, issue 404. Unbeatable by Sarah Shephard Archived 31 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ a b Daily Telegraph, 5 Sept 2015, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning seal success at the Rowing World Championships By Rachel Quarrell
  38. ^ "British Rowing. 4 April 2012. GB Rowing Team announces crews for first 2012 World Cup". Archived from the original on 28 January 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
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External links

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