Boyfriend of triple jumper Hansen in racist stabbing

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The Independent Online

The white boyfriend of black triple jumper Ashia Hansen, the Commonwealth champion and indoor world-record holder, was stabbed in a racially-motivated attack, police said Friday.

Chris Cotter, 28, was parking his car in Birmingham on Tuesday night when he was approached by a man who made racist comments about Hansen, 28.

A group of three or four other men then approached Cotter from behind and he was stabbed three times in the back and slashed across the forehead, West Midlands police said.

Cotter was taken to the Good Hope Hospital, where he was due to be released Friday.

"It appears the attackers were aware of a relationship between Mr. Cotter and Ashia Hansen and possibly knew where she lived," a spokesman for West Midlands police said. "The men were white and at this stage it is clear that the attack was racially motivated."

Police said Hansen also received a hate mail letter which was "clearly linked" to the attack on Cotter.

The Daily Express newspaper reported that Hansen has been the target of a nine-month racist hate campaign because of her relationship with Cotter.

The paper said Hansen was under police guard at a secret location following the attack.

Hours after the attack, Hansen received a note in the mail, warning, "You were lucky last night. We won't make the same mistake again," the paper said.

Police suspect a far right organization may have been involved in the attack.

"The men who did this are evil," Hansen was quoted as saying. "They should be locked up and the key thrown away."

Hansen, a top Olympic medal hopeful for the Sydney Games, set the world indoor record in the triple jump in Valencia, Spain, in 1998 with a leap of 15.16 meters.

Hansen was fourth at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and fifth at the 1997 World Championships. She won the gold medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and was world indoor champion in 1999.

Born in Evansville, Indiana, Hansen was adopted at three months by an Englishwoman and her Ghanaian husband. The family lived in Ghana for six years before settling in London.

Other high-profile mixed-race couples in Britan have been the target of racist threats and attacks by neo-Nazi groups.

Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies and her former husband, 400-meter runner Derek Redmond, were targets of a race hate campaign which began when they married in 1994. The couple were sent obscene and abusive letters, including some from the right-wing group Combat 18.

In 1997, a letter bomb concealed in a video cassette was sent to their house. Police intercepted the bomb and screened their mail for letters from neo-Nazi groups.