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French hurdler Wilfried Happio won the men’s 400 meter final at the French Elite Athletics Championships on Saturday just 20 minutes after being assaulted during warmups.
Wearing a makeshift eyepatch, the 23-year-old athlete effortlessly crossed the finish line with a time of 48:57 seconds for a national title — just 20 minutes after he was attacked during warm-ups at Helitas Stadium in Caen, northern France.
“I don’t want to dwell on it,” Happio said after the race, via USA Today. “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.”
According to the report, the suspect attacked Happio multiple times in the face while he was preparing for the men’s final. Police later arrested the attacker, but the reason for it was not immediately known.
Happio’s coach Olivier Vallaeys, who pulled the man off, said the suspect appeared out of nowhere and asked if it was Wilfried Happio before unleashing on him.
“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,” he said, via AFP.
Happio’s finish on Saturday qualifies him for the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Oregon next month.