Brent Lakatos hopes Toronto 2015 can have huge impact‏

For Canada's four-time world gold medallist Brent Lakatos, this week's Parapan American Games in Toronto will present the opportunity of a lifetime.

One of the world's most respected para-athletes for over a decade, Lakatos has yet to experience a major para-athletics competition on home turf. Until now, that is.

In fact for the Quebec-born wheelchair racer, the Parapan Am Games - which take place from 7-15 August - are the highlight of his year. And in a year that also sees the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, that is saying something.

"I know I'm more excited about [the Parapan Games] than the World Championships - I'm much more excited to go and compete in Toronto in a Canadian stadium," admitted Lakatos who in 2013 won world titles over 100m, 200m and 400m.

"My family and friends are going to be there, my extended family, my cousins and my aunts and uncles, as well as lot of people I've known just from competing in Canada at local meets.

"It's not a warm up for Doha - I'm treating this as a World Championships during the summer: the Parapan Games are their own thing, it's going to be amazing."

Of course it is not just about personal ambitions and patriotic pride. Lakatos also sees a bigger picture; an opportunity for Canada to embrace para-athletics even more.

In July, the 35-year-old raced in Great Britain at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix Final in London's former Olympic Stadium, winning the 100m T53 in front of a 20,000 strong crowd.

Lakatos has had first-hand experience in London of just what a major para-athletics meeting can do for a city, and for a nation. He is hoping that the same rings true for his own country.

"I'm really excited about the opportunity for Canada," he explained. "You look at the London legacy and the Anniversary Games - they wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the Paralympics, and the focus on para-athletes that Great Britain now has.

"I hope that Canadian athletes do well, and the fans really get in to it, and Canada gets behind their para-athletes. Then we will have a generation from Canada with young kids excited about it.

"Canada doesn't host so many international events - this is something that Toronto got really excited about and the country really liked, so hopefully the Parapan Games can build on that and move the Paralympic movement forward also."

Lakatos takes on the 100m, 400m and 800m (T53) in Toronto, and there is no doubt he lines up as the favourite for gold in each event. Top ranked in the world in the 100m and 200m, and second over one lap behind Frenchman Pierre Fairbank, he acknowledges that he will be the man to beat. Brazil's Ariosvaldo Fernandes Silva - ranked fifth in the world over 100m after clocking 15.01 at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix earlier this year - could pose the biggest threat.

"I feel fairly confident as long as I can stay healthy," said Lakatos. "Last time I raced [Silva] was in the US last year and I think I got him by a front wheel. He pushed faster than he'd ever done before - he had me for most of the race and I had to come back on him. So if he is there the 100m will be very close. I think it gets a bit easier after that."

Lakatos has good reason to take nothing for granted. So far, 2015 has not gone as he had hoped, and big targets remain on the horizon. "This season has not gone as planned - I was hoping to `pb' in Switzerland in the sprints; I haven't had a chance to do that.

"It's been difficult as I had a little bit of an illness going on since the first competition in Switzerland, so the Anniversary Games were a great opportunity to get back and get a race under my belt. It wasn't perfect conditions but the time was good enough so I think I am going strong again and I'll be ready.

"I don't know what the Toronto track will be like but hopefully I'll have a chance to get some personal bests there and go from there in to the Worlds."

Of course a personal best in the 100 metres has a more significant meaning - Lakatos holds the world record in the event, having clocked 14.17 in Switzerland last year.

A sub-14 second race remains his target - and he believes if the home crowds get behind him in Toronto his goal is a realistic one. The track and field competition at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games will feature 377 athletes competing in 145 medal events between 10-14 August.

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