Frenchman Baala to compete indoors | 22.10.2012
|Two-time European 1500m champion Mehdi Baala
of France has confirmed that he will compete at
some indoor meetings this season.
In Parilly, just outside Lyon the former European champion helped his club, Lille Metropole Athlétisme, win the 4x800m title. The intention had been to attack the 33-year-old French record of 7:13.6, but the Lille quartet was well outside that mark with 7:31.36 on a blustery day.
But the big news was that Baala had finally donned his spikes in competition after a frustrating summer and was looking forward to running this winter: "I am going to run one or two indoor meetings and then we will see," Baala told athle.com.
Baala was double European champion 2002-2006 over the 1500m, finished fourth at the Sydney Olympics and took bronze in Beijing to add to his world silver from 2003. He has a lifetime best of 3:28.98 from 2003 and is still the French record holder over 800m in 1:43.15.
The Frenchman's intention had been to retire after the London 2012 Olympic Games, but once that possibility of competing at the Games had gone, he had to rethink his strategy, though at 34 he concedes he is approaching the end of his career: "I have got different ambitions to before. I am no longer a completely full time athlete. But I want to use my experience to help my club develop. I listen to my body more and I am less of a work horse than I was. But I am not entirely excluding competition."
Baala has opened a sports goods shop in Strasbourg, but he is keen to give something back to the sport that has given him so much. He is planning on competing much more for his club in interclub competitions and being present at his club training sessions to impart some of his experience to up and coming athletes. Coaching for the time being is out of the question because of demands on his time but he has not completely ruled it out for the future.
So how did his return to the track go? "In the heats I did not feel too good, but that is not too surprising given the fact that I only returned to training recently. But I felt better in the final. This has allowed me to get back in the groove. I was a bit tense because if you screw up in a relay the other three are disappointed, but the sensation of speed in the final was better. I got a kick out of the whole thing."