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Wilfried Happio Assaulted 20 Minutes Before Race, Still Wins French Gold

Wilfried Happio Assaulted 20 Minutes Before Race, Still Wins French Gold
By PJ Browne

Wilfried Happio won gold in the 400m hurdles at the French Athletics Championships over the weekend.

The 23-year-old did so despite being assaulted shortly before the final. Wearing an eyepatch and headband over his eye, Happio stepped into his blocks, and incredibly ran a personal best time of 48.57. He finished more than a second ahead of runner-up Ludvy Vaillant at the Stade Helitas in Caen.

1 August 2021; Wilfried Happio of France after finishing seventh in his semifinal of the men's 400 metres hurdles at the Olympic Stadium on day nine of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

"There was a big incident in the warm-up. Someone jumped on him and hit him,” said Happio’s coach Olivier Vallaeys.

"Some guy came out of nowhere and asked him if he was Wilfried Happio and then jumped on him. I managed to hold him back.

"It was 20 minutes before the race, we were ready to go to the call area.

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"We’re shocked. The guy was arrested and Wilfried is fine. But I’m speechless, it was pure aggression, it’s scandalous. These are the methods of a savage."

Happio said his run was "more complicated than normal because I only had one eye". His depth perception would obviously have been severely affected by having to wear an eyepatch.

The time also qualifies him to run at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon next month.

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