RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil – A champion wheelchair racer says his time on the basketball court prepared him for greatness on the track.
When Canadian Brent Lakatos was six, he was involved in a skating accident and the collision with the ice caused paralysis in his legs.
Later, looking for a sport, he chose wheelchair basketball and his father, Steve, said the decision was one of the best he could have made.
“It helped him stay in sports,” the elder Lakatos said. “Eventually, he made the choice on which sport to do and he turned to racing.
“He has done pretty well.”
Pretty well, indeed.
Lakatos, 36, won bronze in men’s 800m wheelchair racing by 0.02 of a second Thursday, completing his Paralympic medal collection that includes gold and silver won earlier in the 2016 Games.
The three medals matched his total from the 2012 London Games, strengthening his argument that wheelchair basketball (he played at the University of Texas) is good preparation for track.
“It’s lots of quick reflexes and I am a sprinter,” Lakatos said, moments after his race in the Olympic Stadium. “We need to have lots of fast twitch muscles.”
The Montreal resident said he was thrilled with his performances in Brazil.
“Today, I knew it was going to be extremely difficult,” Lakatos said. “I really wanted to win a medal, but there were seven of us in that race who could have won.
“To be able to do that, it definitely feels better to win a medal than not so I am happy.”
Lakatos stunned even his father when he clinched bronze at the finish line to complete a dream-like week in Rio, although dad said he had confidence in his son.
“I knew he could pull it off, given the right conditions,” said Steve, who also watched his son medal in London. “He was ready for it, oh yes.”
Interviewed shortly after the final race, Steve said he was “still quivering.”
“You can’t imagine it,” Steve said. “I am extremely proud.”