For five kilometres, Stefan Daniel ate up the ground on his competition along Copacabana Beach.
But 5K wouldn't be enough, and the 19-year-old from Calgary wound up with silver Saturday in the inaugural triathlon at the Rio Paralympics.
Daniel was fourth when he hopped off his bike, nearly two minutes behind leader Martin Schulz of Germany. But he made up massive ground with a terrific run portion, crossing the finish line in one hour three minutes and five seconds.
Schulz won the gold in 1:02.37.
"I was lucky to have the run legs today," Daniel said. "I was in a podium position coming off the bike, so I had to earn every spot that I could. But Martin was too far up the road, he beat me fair and square, he was better today. But I gave it everything I could, I was lucky to get the silver."
Spain's Jairo Ruiz Lopez was third.
Daniel was born with bilateral radial club hands, and his right forearm significantly shorter than his left, and so the swim is his weakness. His strong running allows him to compete in able-bodied triathlons — he beat a field of able-bodied athletes to win the Canadian junior title last year — plus he runs cross-country for the University of Calgary's track team.
"I knew I'd have the run (to make up ground Saturday), but unfortunately I just ran out of real estate," he said.
He had his sights set on Paralympic gold after beating the 26-year-old Schulz to win the para-triathlon world championships last September.
But Daniel, who was the youngest athlete in the field, surely has a long career ahead of him.
"We're dealing with a man versus boy scenario," said his coach Carolyn Murray. "We know in Tokyo (in 2020), Daniel will be a man. But Schulz had a phenomenal race. "He just put it down on the bike and I have to give him a lot of credit."
While triathlon made its Olympic debut in 2000 in Sydney, where Canada's Simon Whitfield claimed gold, this was the inaugural Paralympic event. Saturday, athletes swam 750 metres in the choppy waters off Copacabana beach, cycled 20 kilometres and ran 5K in the same venue that hosted the Olympic triathlon last month.