Hurdler Wilfried Happio assaulted 20 minutes before winning French 400 meter race with an eyepatch

·1 min read

French hurdler Wilfried Happio won a national title Saturday just minutes after being assaulted by an anonymous attacker during warm-ups.

Happio was preparing for the 400 meters hurdles final at the French Elite Athletics Championships at the Helitas Stadium in Caen, northern France, when the assailant punched him multiple times in the face on the warm-up track.

The attacker was later arrested by the police, but the reason for the attack is unknown.

“I don’t want to dwell on it,” said Happio after the race. “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 I’m fine.”

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France's Wilfried Happio wears a bandage after being assaulted at the warm-up stage during in the mens 400 meter hurdles final.
France's Wilfried Happio wears a bandage after being assaulted at the warm-up stage during in the mens 400 meter hurdles final.

Racing with a patch and bandage over his eye, Happio finished with his personal best of 48.57 seconds.

Happio's coach Olivier Vallaeys – who was able to remove the attacker – shared that "a guy came from nowhere asked if it was really him, Wilfried Happio, threw himself on him" and hit him several times.

“The guy was arrested," said Vallaeys. "Wilfried is fine. But I’m speechless, it’s a mess. Sheer aggression. It’s outrageous. These are savage methods.”

Happio's title win qualifies him for the World Championships set to begin in July. Happio reached the Olympic semi-finals in 2021.

Contact Analis Bailey at aabailey@usatoday.com or on Twitter @analisbailey.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Wilfried Happio wins French 400m hurdles 20 minutes after assault

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