He was wearing an eye cap, had been injured, and the doctors had advised him not to start. Wilfried Happio, however, French hurdler over the 400 meters, does not want to let his great triumph be taken away and makes for an actually unbelievable story at the French Athletics Championships in Caen.
It begins 20 minutes before the start when the 23-year-old suddenly falls victim to an attack. An officially unidentified perpetrator rushed towards Happio while warming up and attacked him with punches. Happio’s coach Olivier Vallaeys quickly came to his runner’s aid, but was unable to prevent a bloody nose and an injury to his left eye. “There was an incident while warming up with someone throwing themselves at him and hitting him,” Vallaeys confirmed to L’Equipe.
After the attack, Happio remains on the ground and has to be treated by paramedics. The verdict of the medics, who taped his affected eye with a plaster, is unequivocal: no start.
The Frenchman, however, doesn’t want to miss the chance to win the title and a possible qualification for the World Championships in the USA, pulls his headband over his eye and starts.
Not only does he then win the race and become French champion – Happio even runs a personal best of 48.57 seconds and qualifies for the World Championship. A loud cheer can be heard at the finish line.
Now the incident is being worked up before the start. According to “L’Equipe”, the attacker is said to be the brother of an acquaintance Happios. The French Athletics Federation said the person had been identified, without giving any further details. “William is fine. But I’m speechless, that’s scandalous, “Coach Vallaeys is quoted as saying.