Faster, stronger Canadians are ones to watch in Para athletics in Tokyo

Canadian Paralympic Committee

August 22, 2021

World record holders Lakatos, Riech and Foessel chase medals


Canada is fielding a 16-member team in Para athletics for the Paralympic Games with world record holders Brent Lakatos, Nate Riech and Renee Foessel leading the charge.

Wheelchair racer Lakatos, a seven-time Paralympic medallist over four Games, is qualified in a whopping six events: 100 metres, 400 metres, 800 metres, 1,500 metres, 5,000 metres and marathon, with the latter being his newest event since Rio.

His top opponents over the shorter distances include Pongsakorn Paeyo of Thailand, a double champion in Rio in 2016 while Marcel Hug of Switzerland is the big star in the marathon. Lakatos holds the world records in every distance between the 100-m and 1500-m.

While Lakatos, from Dorval, Que., is an established star on the team, Riech is headed to his first Paralympics to continue an incredible tradition of family excellence. The middle distance runner has consistently lowered the world record in the men’s T38 1500-m event since bursting on the scene in 2017, most recently in May 2021 in a time of 3:50.47 at a meet in Azusa, California. 

His father Todd Riech competed at the 1996 Olympics in javelin for the USA. His mother Ardin Tucker was a pole vaulter for Canada. His grandfather Jim Harrison played eight years in the NHL with the Maple Leafs, Blackhawks and Bruins, and the list continues through a variety of sports.

‘’The most difficult part of the race is the middle section,’’ said Riech, from Victoria, in an interview with Japanese media on Twitter. ‘’Your mind is telling you to stop, you’re hurting and you know if you push through it you’ll be better for it.’’

Meanwhile Foessel enjoyed a great summer heading into the Games. In June, she set a world record in the F38 discus with a throw of 37.88 meters, at the Toronto Track and Field Centre at York University.

One of her top opponents will be compatriot Jennifer Brown of Calgary, the Parapan Am Games champion in 2019, who was sixth at the same 2019 worlds.

“If I can get a personal best at the biggest meet of my career… that’s always what we’re striving for,’’ Brown recently told CBC Calgary. 

In the visually impaired middle distance race (T13) watch for Guillaume Ouellet of Victoriaville, Que. The 2015 world champion and 2019 Parapan Am Games champion in the 5000-m can expect a big challenge from Australian Jaryd Clifford. He comes to Tokyo as the man to beat in the middle-distance T13 races winning gold in both the 1500m and 5000m events at the 2019 worlds.

In the F46 shotput, Greg Stewart of Kamloops is expected to renew his rivalry with world number-one Joshua Cinnamo of USA. Stewart, a seven-foot-two gentle giant, was second to the American at both the worlds and Parapan Ams in 2019.

“It’s been 20 years in the making. A lot of hard work has gone into this, a lot of blood, sweat and tears,’’ Stewart told Kamloops This Week.

Para athletics competition in Tokyo runs from August 27 to September 5. Check out the complete Canadian roster here

Can Crew Newsletter

Receive the latest news, athlete stories, and behind-the-scenes access directly to your inbox.

"*" indicates required fields