” It is a relief. It’s been a year since Wilfried Happio, specialist in the 400m hurdles, dragged behind him the specter of a conviction, since the filing of a complaint for sexual assault dating back to September 20, 2021. Tuesday, June 27, the case was closed without action by the Paris court, said the lawyer for the French athlete, Anthony Mottai. The proceedings against his client are dropped.

Wilfried Happio learned the news a few hours before an appointment with Le Monde to discuss the World Championships in Budapest (August 19 to 27, 2023), where he will be among the headliners of the France team, on the strength of his fourth place at the world championships in Eugene (USA) last summer. But it is the extra-sporty that has punctuated the last months of the 24-year-old hurdler. “I suffered a lot”, he explains, convinced of having been “always straight in [his] boots” and “of total transparency with the institutions”.

On June 30, 2022, a French athlete had filed a complaint against the native of L’Häy-les-Roses (Val-de-Marne) for sexual assault, denouncing touching which allegedly took place at the National Institute of Sport, expertise and performance (Insep), where the two athletes train. The facts would have occurred on the night of September 20, 2021.

Champion of France, swollen face

On June 25, 2022, the brother of the alleged victim physically attacked Wilfried Happio, a few minutes before the final of the 400m hurdles of the French championships, in Caen. Despite bruises on his face and a broken cheekbone, the lap specialist took the start, his left eye covered with a blindfold, and won the race by beating his personal best (48 s 57).

“It was very violent, very strange. I didn’t know what he wanted, where he came from. I ran the race blind, just on tempo,” he recalls. A few days later, the young woman went to the police station in the 12th arrondissement of Paris to file a complaint for “sexual assault”.

Now, the athlete, a physiotherapy student, hopes to turn the page. “What hurt me was the image that was given to me and the media frenzy that there was around the case. It affected me a lot. Fortunately, I was able to count on those around me to support me in these difficult times. »

The Frenchman now intends to focus on his “sporting career”, specifies his lawyer. “I will be able to move on and refocus fully on my season, explains the person concerned. First on the world championships, then on the Olympic Games, in a year. I have no more time to waste. In Budapest, he will have to face the world record holder, the Norwegian Karsten Warholm, and the American Rai Benjamin.