Win the French 400 meter hurdles championship after being assaulted by a spectator

Wilfried Happio, during the final of the 400 meters hurdles. / AFP

A fan jumped out of the grandstand and hit Wilfried Happio in the face with a belt during warm-up twenty minutes before the race

Despite running with 50% vision, Frenchman Wilfried Happio was proclaimed national champion in the 400m hurdles at the Hélitas de Caen stadium on Saturday. Before the test, the 23-year-old athlete had been attacked by a spectator during the warm-up for the grand finale, on the Lycée Malherbe track, 500 meters from the Hélitas. According to the version provided to AFP by his coach, Olivier Vallaeys, the fan approached him, asked him if he was Wilfried Happio and, immediately afterwards, pounced on him, hitting him in the face with a belt. “We are in a state of shock,” added the coach. The police, present at the stadium, quickly arrested the individual.

After the surreal incident, the one from Bourg-la-Reine felt discomfort in his left eye and had to improvise a cumbersome bandage. For this, he used a sports headband, as reflected in the photograph that illustrates this information, to be able to compete in the race without vision disturbances. «I do not want to expand on that, the case is pending. The sensations were good”, explained the athlete after proclaiming himself champion of France. The procedures to which the hurdler refers have resulted in the complaint that the Caen city council will file this Monday with the federation. “The municipal police investigation is ongoing. The FFA (French Athletics Federation) and the city of Caen will file a complaint tomorrow morning,” a spokesman for the championship organization told the media, confirming that he had identified the aggressor.

Happio angrily celebrated the victory and was embraced by his rivals, aware of the bad experience their colleague had had. The runner was taken to the hospital after appearing in a mixed zone with his head down, crying and bleeding from the nose, an injury possibly derived from the assault suffered. “I am speechless, it is pure aggression. It has been scandalous, wild”, lamented the runner, who signed the fifth best mark of a Frenchman in the history of the 400 meter hurdles with 48 seconds and 57 hundredths. His spectacular record allowed him to obtain the ticket for the World Cup in Eugene (Oregon, United States) that takes place from July 15 to 24 and in which he will start as one of the rivals to beat. Not surprisingly, Hippio reached the semifinals at the Tokyo Games.

women’s world record

The 400 meters hurdles have also been protagonists this weekend in the women’s category. The US Championship, which, like the one in Caen, serves as a qualifier for the World Cup event, set a new world record. Sydney McLaughlin, 22, broke her previous mark and signed a 51.41. She lowered by five hundredths the record that she sealed at the Tokyo Games, where she hung her first Olympic gold.



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