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The Men Behind World Athletics Championships’ Mascot, Youhuu

Hungary Today 2023.08.30.

Sunday marked the end of the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, the biggest sporting event the country has ever seen. The mascot of the tournament was Youhuu, a racka sheep, highlighting the Hungarian aspect of the event. Youhuu caused many funny moments during the World Championships, and now it has been revealed who the costume was hiding, reports Index.

The Hungarian news portal was able to interview Scott Hesington, who embodied the mascot character during the event for nine days, along with his two colleagues. The man has been practicing the craft since 1994, and has been a professional mascot since 1999. When he started, he was still a student at the University of Arizona, studying psychology and biology, planning to become a marine biologist, but he soon realized that the magical world of mascots was the right one for him. The world’s most famous mascot is a New Yorker living in Brooklyn with his wife and 10-year-old son. He also works as a stuntman and has worked in several films.


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Hesington, 48, started out with the Orlando Magic basketball team as Stuff the Magic Dragon from 2002 to 2011. He later became the Detroit Pistons’ mascot, Hooper.

He is no stranger to the world of athletics championships either, having been the mascot Hero the Hedgehog at the 2017 London World Championships.

Last year, he also customized the mascot Legend the Bigfoot at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

As Index reminds us, a mascot has to be sensible and know where to draw the line between being cheeky and over-confident. During the event in Hungary, several people pointed out that Youhuu had some questionable moments, but Hesington said that no one was angry with him. As he pointed out, mascots walk a fine line, but he always knows where the line is.

Youhuu with Hungarian athlete Beatrix Szabó at the National Athletics Center. Photo: MTI/Koszticsák Szilárd

Hesington is so famous that he is not the one who has to look for opportunities. As he told Index, he was approached by the organizers of the World Athletics Championships in Budapest in the spring of 2022, and then signed a contract with them. The interview also revealed that the heat of the past few days has taken its toll on him, as it is 40 degrees Celsius under the costume in normal conditions, if it is 20 degrees Celsius outside, but during the World Championships in Budapest, the outside temperature was close to 40 degrees Celsius.

As is turns out, Hesington did not wear the iconic mascot’s costume alone, but alternated with two of his companions who are also skilled mascots.

His two other partners are Zoltán Berencsi and John Behrle, the former of whom is a third-generation immigrant whose grandparents emigrated to the United States from Hungary.

Hesington said he is grateful to have traveled the world, visiting 34 countries and having incredible experiences. However, being a mascot is not all fun and games. “It is actually a dangerous business, you can get heat stroke in there, in the furry animal’s costume. You have to be very aware of your body’s signals, if there is a problem, do not take any chances. I can honestly say that this job in Budapest was exhausting. But it was worth it because it gave us, the impersonators of Youhuu, a great experience,” he emphasized.

Interestingly, he got so familiar with Youhuu’s story that he went to a farm in Hortobágy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Great Plain of Hungary, where he could see real, live racka sheep. “They are quite distrustful animals, they do not let you pet them,” he said.

The Racka is a breed of sheep known for its unusual spiral-shaped horns. The breed has been kept by Hungarians for many centuries and was once the most common variety in the country. The largest stocks are found in the Hortobágy region of Hungary. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

World Athletics Championships in Budapest a Global Success
World Athletics Championships in Budapest a Global Success

Between 19 and 27 August, more than 400,000 fans from 120 countries visited the National Athletics Center.Continue reading

Featured photo via MTI/Czeglédi Zsolt

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