Police were called to an incident which left thousands of spectators shocked at the IAAF Golden League Meeting in Rome last night.
Salim Sdiri, the French long-jumper, was sitting quietly in the athletes' warm-up area, when he was speared by a javelin hurled at him by Finland's tempestuous rising star Tero Pitkamaki.
Sdiri was pinned to the track for more than an hour with blood pouring from his wound, before an ambulance crew was able to free him and take him to the Benito Mussolini Sports Injuries Hospital in the capital. Doctors there later confirmed that his condition was "well down the rankings".
The two athletes, who have never been friends, had clashed swords earlier in the day over the attentions of Polish shot-putter Strashnia Gruby.
A police spokesman at the trackside said:
"Mamma mia! Itsa terrible thissa sorta thing isa creepin into sport!"