“It’s a great field – I’m really excited. I think I’m looking forward to this even more than the London Marathon.”
Canada’s multiple world champion Brent Lakatos hopes his recent focus on road racing will translate into success on the track at the Nottwil Grand Prix which gets underway in Switzerland on Friday (25 May).
Lakatos won four gold medals at London 2017, his best result at a World Championships, but last year also marked his first foray in to marathon racing.
The T53 wheelchair racer took on the Berlin marathon last September, then raced in London, Great Britain, last month where he finished tenth.
Now he admits there is “definitely relief” to be back on the track for the first time this year.
“The two (road and track racing) are so different,” explained Lakatos, who will compete in the 1,500m and 5,000m T54 in Switzerland. “I’m a pretty lightweight guy – that’s a disadvantage on the road, but then going to the track, that’s an advantage.
“The corners are hard on the road because T54s in general I think are better at cornering, and on a track there are no corners, there’s just a bend and you’ve got your compensator.
“I am really looking forward to going back to the track. I’ve been training for the marathon so that’s going to translate really well to the mid-distances.”
Of course, Nottwil holds great memories for the Canadian – last year he broke Marcel Hug’s 1,500m T53/54 world record there - but Lakatos insists that gives him no advantage.
“Nottwil is great, it’s my favourite place to compete. It’s Marcel’s track but I really like racing there and borrowing it for a little bit. But the world record is a bit deceiving. I did that with Kenny van Weeghel and Richard Chiassaro and we worked together in a team, so we produced a really good time, which is much different from a race.
“Going and racing against Marcel and the Thailand guys and all the best in the world is like the World Championships last year where I came fifth. Having the best time doesn’t mean that you’re the best racer.”
One change for the better has been the use of hard gloves, which Lakatos started wearing last year.
“That made a huge difference for me in all the races from 400m up. Last year I made the gloves myself and when you’re making something it’s never going to be perfectly symmetrical. So the pushing surface on my right hand glove was different on my left hand glove. Now I’ve got a 3D printed copy of the gloves so they’re symmetrical. It’s really cool.”
As always, the Nottwil start list reads like a World Championship final – with the expected big names, such as home favourite and triple London 2017 champion Hug; Japan’s Kota Hokinoue and Tomoki Suzuki; and Thai duo Prawat Wahoram and Rawat Tana all in attendance.
One man Lakatos is paying particular attention to is Tunisia’s 200m and 400m world champion Yassine Gharbi, who has already shown terrific form this year, breaking the 400m T54 world record.
“He’s absolutely flying. He might be the athlete to beat in Nottwil,” said Lakatos. “It’s a great field – I’m really excited. I think I’m looking forward to this even more than the London Marathon.”
Still, it’s Lakatos, who celebrates his 38th birthday in June, that shows no sign of slowing down. Experience is paying off, even if the lyrics to Rod Stewart’s song ‘Oh la la’ - "I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger" frequently enter his mind.
“I always think of (the song) when I think of experience and age,” reflected Lakatos.
“If I could give myself the technique and the experience and the knowledge that I have now and transfer that to 15-years-ago Brent, I’d love to do that.”