TOKYO — Brent Lakatos earned his fourth silver medal and 11th of his illustrious career in Tokyo on Thursday, further cementing his status as one of Canada’s most decorated Paralympians.
But with gold proving elusive in his fifth Games, the 41-year-old wheelchair racer from Dorval, Que., said the feelings on his second-place finish in the 800 metres were bittersweet.
“Right now, it stings a little bit because it’s been a lot of silver,” said Lakatos. “I really wanted to bring home a gold, I really wanted to have our anthem played, and to be able to celebrate all of that good stuff. I’m sure in a couple of days, it’ll feel absolutely great.”
In a storyline that’s played on repeat in Tokyo, Lakatos and veteran swim star Aurelie Rivard captured Canada’s two medals on the day. Rivard raced to silver in the 100-metre backstroke.
Rivard, with five medals including a pair of gold, and Lakatos, with four silver, have won half of the Canadian team’s 18 medals through nine days of action.
China leads the way with 167 medals, including 77 gold. The Russian Paralympic Committee team has 97 medals, while Britain has 96.
Lakatos and Rivard each have one event left. Lakatos will race the marathon on Sunday to cap a gruelling six-event Games, while Rivard swims the 200 individual medley on Friday.
Lakatos, who suffered a blood clot in his spine when he slid into the boards while skating at the age of six, has 11 Paralympic medals, but Thursday’s silver might have been one of his most frustrating. The 2019 world champion in the 800 had hoped his experience with race tactics gave him the edge on the field. He was leading at the halfway point but was passed by Pongsakorn Paeyo, who pulled away down the homestretch.
The 24-year-old from Thailand, whose impairment was caused by polio, also beat Lakatos over 100 and 400 metres in Tokyo.
Lakatos should be a frontrunner in Sunday’s marathon after winning the London Marathon a few months ago. He was thankful for a couple of days off before he hits the start line again.
“I’m just going to relax (Friday), and then probably go for a light jog (Saturday) before I go to bed really early. Because it’s a very early start. I’ll probably be getting up around 2 a.m. for the race at the latest,” Lakatos said. “I’m looking forward to it a lot. It’s a nice course, it’s a flat course which which suits me.”
Elsewhere on the track Thursday, wheelchair racer Jessica Frotten of Whitehorse was eighth in a rainy 400 final.
“I was just so excited to make it into the final. I feel like I had more in me, and I wish I could have put a little more out there, but I’m super happy with it,” said Frotten. “It is so wet. I was slipping a little on the back corner, so that makes it a little slower, too.”
Rivard, a 25-year-old from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., touched the wall at the halfway point in fifth place on Thursday before roaring back to win silver.
“I was aiming for a podium. I’m really happy to have gotten silver,” said Rivard. “The race was awesome, I finished really well. I’m really pleased with the way that I raced even though I had no idea where I was in the field until I touched the wall.”
Rivard, who was born with an underdeveloped left hand, has 10 Paralympic medals over three Games. She carried Canada’s flag in the closing ceremony of the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
Rivard’s time of 1:08.94 was a personal best. Bianka Pap of Hungary won gold with 1:06.70.
“I hadn’t been under 1:09.00 my entire life so overall I’m very pleased with my first medal in the 100 back ever,” Rivard said. “I hadn’t put a lot of pressure on myself for this race because it’s not an event I train for very often.”
The Canadian swim team has won seven medals in Tokyo, with one day of competition remaining in the pool.
In Para cycling, Shelley Gautier of Niagara Falls, Ont., battled rain and fog to finish fifth in the women’s road race in 1:32:08.
“I felt good today. It was very competitive, and I was able to take advantage of curves and turns and wet weather,” Gautier said. “I just love racing in the rain because it doesn’t bother me and I was able to do very well.”
Keely Shaw of Midale, Sask., who was Canada’s first medallist of Tokyo 2020 with a bronze in the individual pursuit, finished 13th in her road race.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 2, 2021.
The Canadian Press