RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – In his fourth visit to the Games, wheelchair racer Brent Lakatos earned that elusive prize – a gold medal.
Lakatos’s competitive spirit has fueled him to great heights in his decorated career – at the 2013 IPC World Championships, he earned golds in the 100m, 200m, 400m, and 4x400m relay before defending three of those medals in 2015 – but the one he had yet to win was Paralympic gold.
“Honestly, this morning I was so nervous,” said an exhilarated Lakatos. “Everyone else was doing so well. Then I remembered back in my room I’ve won this event lots of times in the past, and thought, well, they should be nervous.”
The world record holder for the T53 men’s 100m finished with a time of 14.44 seconds, only one one-hundredth of a second from tying the Paralympic record he had set earlier in the day.
After the first 30m, Lakatos moved ahead of the pack and began to sense victory.
“I was just so focused,” said the gold medallist. “I could see out of my peripheral vision that they were falling behind slightly so I thought to myself ‘just hold on, just cross that finish line’. It’s amazing.”
Those previous races, though they did not yield the result he wanted, were important learning opportunities.
I’ve done everything I possibly could over the last four years,” Lakatos said. “My equipment, my body, the support that I’ve received from Athletics Canada, Own the Podium. It’s just been phenomenal.
“It’s all lead up to this, the whole team, to help get me to that goal.”
Lakatos’ wife, Stefanie Reid, is a member of Team Great Britain – she had her own Paralympic dream come true after she defended her silver medal from the 2012 Games. Drawing inspiration from his wife was a no-brainer, he said.
“I was out there watching, but I shouldn’t have been, I should have been preparing,” he said. “I was cheering for her, willing her to go a little bit farther. She did amazing, she had a great jump, and I’m really proud of her.”
After he crossed that finish line, he raised a fist in triumph.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Lakatos said. “My family was there, I got to see them right after, my wife was up in the stands, it’s just the perfect moment.”