A French Olympic runner has developed a reputation for the way he marks the end of his races.
Instead of throwing up his hands in a victory sign or congratulating his fellow competitors on a race well run, Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad has taken to attacking mascots.
After winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase race at the European Athletic Championships in Helsinki Friday, the Algerian-born runner, 27, went straight from the finish line to a teenage girl dressed as the championship’s mascot, “Appy,” knocked a gift bag out of her hands and shoved her.
The entire episode was captured on camera as it unfolded before thousands of shocked fans.
The girl, 14, suffered no injuries from the attack but Mekhissi-Benabbad might suffer some consequences from his sport.
“Hopefully, the EAA would deal with the case,” championship director Mika Muukka told Karjalainen news of European Athletics Association. “Such behavior is completely unacceptable.”
The track star, who won the silver medal at the 2010 Beijing Olympics for the event, had earlier directed his ire toward a mascot two years ago after winning the same event at the 2010 European Athletic Championships in Barcelona.
In that case, he asked the mascot to kneel before him and then pushed the mascot over, according to Le 10 Sport.
And it’s not just humans dressed in costumes that Mekhissi-Benabbad seems to have his eye on.
He was suspended for 10 months in 2011 after getting into a fight with a teammate, fellow French runner Mehdi Baala, at the finish line of the 1,500-meter race during the Monaco Diamond League games.
Baala reportedly provoked the fight first by head-butting Mekhissi-Benabbad, who responded with punches and slaps before the fight was broken up by race officials.