Wilfried Happio misses a feat in the 400m hurdles final at the World Athletics Championships

“Fuck, I was third… At least I gave it my all. » Tuesday, July 19 in Eugene (Oregon), Wilfried Happio was still third a few meters from the finish line of the 400-meter hurdles final, before finally taking an unexpected fourth place. He failed two hundredths from a world bronze medal won by the American Trevor Bassitt (47 seconds 39 hundredths), 3e behind the Brazilian Alison dos Santos (46 seconds 29 hundredths) and another American, Rai Benjamin (46 seconds 89 hundredths).

Read also: World Athletics Championships: Alison dos Santos succeeds Karsten Warholm in the 400m hurdles

After the fourth place of hammer thrower Quentin Bigot and the disappointment of the 110m hurdles (Pascal Martinot Lagarde, Just Kwaou-Mathey and Sasha Zhoya not qualified for the final), a medal would have been good for the France team.

At 23, Wilfried Happio broke his own record. And this time, he even touched a mythical French record – long European record – that of Stéphane Diagana: 47 s 41, against 47 s 37.

He had beaten his personal record for the first time at the end of June, in a very specific context: a few minutes before the final of the French championships, he had been attacked by the brother of an athlete, who filed a complaint against him for sexual assault.

Read also: World Athletics Championships: Wilfried Happio, a final in a difficult context

When asked if he achieved the level of performance, the person concerned was divided: “I’ll tell myself that in a few days. For now, I really have fourth place in my head. But I’m happy to get closer to Stéphane’s time. He is a mentor and an example. »

The Lille licensee added: “Before coming here, I wouldn’t have believed it if someone had told me I was going to finish 4e, with the names that there are. In Tokyo [aux Jeux olympiques], I did not even qualify for the final. You have to know how to seize the opportunities in life. Today I may have grabbed one. »

“Oh, there is Warholm! »

However, in the particular context of Karsten Warholm’s poor form, which may not be repeated often, Wilfried Happio may well have missed the result of a lifetime. American Trevor Bassitt “went slower, which meant he had a bit more juice than me at the end. He managed to grab the two hundredths he neededhe analyzed more lucidly. Congratulations to him, now it’s the last time he does this to me (smiles). »

What was he thinking when he lifted his handicap on the world record holder, Kartsen Warholm, who was breaking down at the start of the home stretch? “I said to myself so much: ‘Stop telling yourself that it’s Warholm, otherwise you’ll never be first.’ When I walked by, I said “Oh, there’s Warholm!” I thought I was going to beat him but once you really do, you’re always a little surprised. »

This result opens up new horizons for the athlete, who will have to solve his extra-sporting problems, he who has been heard by Insep (his place of training) but not yet by the police. “We will work accordingly. We are all a little human. At the end of the race, you say to yourself that it’s a question of mentality, to the one who is the most up to date in his training “did he declare.

The one who gained almost a second and a half on his best time in less than a month is not even surprised: “It may sound crazy. I see it more in the sense that I’ve been doing 49 seconds for three years. I stagnated, while I trained hard. It needed a clickhe explained. When you are very young, when you experience periods of doubt, you can stumble and set limits.

From August, Wilfried Happio will have a new opportunity to show that this is not due to chance. In Munich, he will be one of the contenders for the podium of the European championships. “I take the lead in the European rankings, it’s nice. I have great respect for my competitors and I know what they can do.”, he confided. There he will certainly find a vengeful Karsten Warholm who is sharper than in Oregon.

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