Battling Baala bemoans luck after 1,500 fal

DAEGU, South Korea, (Reuters) – France’s Mehdi Baala,  who slugged it out on the track with a team mate in Monaco last  month, is starting to think he is cursed after falling in the  1,500 metres heats at world championships on Tuesday.

Olympic bronze medallist Baala made headlines when he traded  blows with Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad in an extraordinary  incident at the finish line at a Diamond League meeting after  they both trailed home as backmarkers in the 1,500 meters on  July 22.

On Tuesday, the 33-year-old 2003 world silver medallist was  looking good for a place in the semi-finals from the second heat  but tripped on the kerb and fell over when coming into the home  straight.

“This is really bad luck because things were running well  for me in the race, the race was not too fast — just like I  like it,” he told reporters.

“I have the impression that I am really attracting and  collecting trouble these days. First the fight, then I got a  small injury in training two days ago and today I fall and do  not finish my race.”

The French team later lodged an official protest that their  athlete had been jostled, hoping that he would be reinstated for  the semi-finals.

“Another athlete touched me but I do not know who it was,”  said Baala.

The French Athletics Federation handed Baala and  Mekhissi-Benabbad suspended bans and fines for what it described  as their “unspeakable behaviour” in Monaco, although they were  cleared to run in Daegu.

Baala, who finished fourth in Beijing but was bumped up to  third when winner Rashid Ramzi lost his gold medal for a doping  infraction, said it was his attempt to commiserate with  Mekhissi-Benabbad that had started the fight.

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