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Lucy Van Dalen's smile grows wider

Published: 3:21AM Tuesday August 07, 2012 Source: AAP

Wanganui runner Lucy Van Dalen had a big smile on her face after her first Olympic 1500m run - and that was before she knew she was a semi-finalist.

Van Dalen, 23, finished eighth in the first heat of the 1500m overnight in a time of 4min 07.04 seconds, despite being hampered by a minor tangling of feet about 200m from the line.

With only the top six in each heat automatically qualifying for Wednesday's semi-finals, Van Dalen faced a nervous wait to see if she would make the grade as one of the six fastest losers.

She was talking to media when the second heat was being run, and her level of excitement rose as she saw it was much slower than hers.

"I really wanted to make it through to the semis. I felt that I could do it. I mean, you're all equal on the line. One more race to see!"

Her interview had finished by the time the third and final heat was over, but judging by her demeanour during the second heat it's a fair bet her excitement reached a new level.

Van Dalen, who has just finished studying at Stony Brook University in New York, decided the best way to qualify was to cover as little extra distance as possible, so she stuck to the inside lane for the whole race.

"I feel like I had a really strong race today. I felt really good out there," Van Dalen said.

"The last 200 was a little bit pushy and shovy and they got away from me a bit but I feel like I did my best today and I'm pleased with the performance."

Van Dalen was a late inclusion in the Olympic team, taking nearly six seconds off her personal best within a two week stretch in June to better the A qualifying standard.