Lindsey Anderson</I>

BEIJING — Lindsey Anderson enjoyed a historic moment Friday night at the Beijing Olympics, running the first heat of the Summer Games debut for the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Anderson's historic moment lasted nine minutes, 36.81 seconds — too slow to advance to Sunday's finals and too fast to really enjoy her own debut as an Olympian.

But 9:36.81 to last a lifetime — and to spur the former Weber State All-American and Morgan High standout on to thoughts of 2012 and the London Games.

In a loaded first heat featuring three of the season's fastest steeplechase runners, Anderson placed eighth with her career second-best time, knowing as she finished that her Beijing Olympics racing opportunity was one and done.

Russia's Gulnara Galkina-Samitova won the heat at 9:15.17, the fastest time of the three heats.

Overall, Anderson placed 24th out of the 50 competitors.

The first four finishers in each of the three preliminary heats advanced to Sunday's finals, along with the three next-fastest finishers.

"I wanted to place in the top four, I wanted to make finals," said Anderson, an assistant track coach at Weber State. "But if I didn't place in the top four, I wanted to be right there to be able to hit that time that I could go."

Anderson said her Olympics experience "has been unbelievable ... Everything has been better than I expected it to be for my first experience."

And she's now got more Summer Games in her sight.

"I love running, I love competing and being here," she said, "and I definitely want to come back and give it another shot."

The pace was fast from the start, but Anderson said she was expecting it. Still, she fell back to 10th after the first lap and a half and had trouble making up the distance behind the next-closest runners, even after the pace slowed down.

"Once it lagged a bit and I got on my rhythm, I wasn't able to fill that gap after the first couple of laps," she said. "My breathing felt fine, my legs just weren't there for me."

Another draining factor was the heat inside the semi-enclosed National Stadium, packed with some 90,000 spectators. "It was at least 15 degree higher than outside," Anderson said, adding "walking in you could almost feel it hit you."

Also hitting Anderson as she entered the stadium for her race was the sight of tens of thousands of Chinese spectators, excited for the first day of track and field competition and still enthralled with the opportunity to host their first Olympics.

"Walking into that stadium and to see all those people who are so excited to see the races and to be a part of that history is just unreal," she said. "You can't beat that feeling."


E-mail: taylor@desnews.com