Brent Lakatos has advanced to the men’s T54 5,000-metre track final, finishing second in his qualifying heat on Friday morning.
Propelled by a crucial penultimate lap, the Canadian finished with a time of 10:15.15.
Prawat Wahoram, of Thailand, finished the heat in first place, but with qualification in sight, Lakatos didn’t want to press in the final lap.
“I felt like (Wahoram) was very good,” said Lakatos. “I didn’t challenge him at the end, because there was no need to.”
Lakatos made his big move in the 11th of the 12.5 laps, climbing four spots and putting himself in second place. The Dorval, Quebec native wouldn’t give up any ground, holding off China’s Yong Zhang in the final lap.
Earlier, the now-UK resident was the model of patience in the race’s first 1,000 metres, opting to stay near the back of the pack and pace himself on a hot, humid night in Tokyo. That patience was rewarded in the latter half of the race.
Now in his fifth Paralympic games, Lakatos will draw from experience as he heads into Saturday morning’s final.
“It’s a major Games, like any other Paralympics I’ve done in the past,” said Lakatos. “So, I’m going to draw on that experience from past Games.”
With cancelled qualifying events, and a delay of the Paralympics, Lakatos is ready for a return to relative normalcy.
“Now that it’s started, it’s real,” said Lakatos. “For the longest time, it didn’t feel real because of all the COVID stuff that has gone on, everything gets cancelled last minute. Now that it’s underway, it’s exciting.”
In the other heat, Marcel Hug of Switzerland, and Daniel Romanchuk of the United States both posted times of sub-10 minutes, which well out-paced the Canadian’s heat.
Conscientious of his competition, Lakatos still likes the position he currently finds himself in.
“I think I’m in a good spot. There were two guys who looked really good in the first heat,” said Lakatos. “They set a new Paralympic record and were the clear favourites … I think there’s a good chance that the two top finishers in each heat will be fighting it out tomorrow for those medals.”
The men’s T54 5,000-metre final will begin Saturday morning at 7:24am EST from The Japan National Stadium in Tokyo.