French athlete Wilfried Happio became the 400 metre hurdles national champion despite being assaulted 20 minutes before the race.
The individual who attacked Happio managed to hit the runner several times in the face after breaking past security before coach Olivier Vallaeys was able to intervene.
As of writing this report, there’s no indication as to why the attack took place or what the attacker’s motives were.
Due to the nature of the attack and the damage caused, Happio was even coughing up blood just minutes before the race, as per RMC Sport, but still declared himself fit to compete. He did, however, have to wear an eye patch and bandage, essentially running with one eye throughout.
Despite being attacked just a mere 20 minutes before the race, the Frenchman was able to secure victory and even a personal best of 48.57 seconds and secured his place at next month’s World Championships in Oregon in the process.
After the race, Happio stated: “I don’t want to dwell on it. We’ll leave that to the competent people. To talk about the race, we worked a lot, we redid the music and that’s it. The feelings were good. I’m glad I did this time. Physically it’s fine.”
His coach was not as calm, however, in his post-race interview, as he has been quoted saying: “There was a big incident during the warm-up. Someone jumped on him and hit him.
“A guy who came from nowhere asked him if it was really him Wilfried Happio and threw himself on him.
“I belted it. It was 20 minutes before the race, we were ready to go to the call room. We’re in shock. The guy was arrested. Wilfried is fine. But I’m speechless, it’s a mess. Sheer aggression. It’s outrageous. These are savage methods.”
Happio, who is now qualified for the World Championships, will be keen to improve on his underwhelming performance in 2019 when he crashed out in the heats.
In response to this attack, French Athletics Federation and the city of Caen will take further action by filing a complaint today against the assaulter.