Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis and former National Association of Athletics Administrations of Trinidad and Tobago (NAAATT) president Ephraim Serrette this morning expressed shock and anguish at the untimely passing of 29-year-old track star Deon Lendore.
Lendore, a three-time Olympian who won bronze in the 4 x 400m event at the London 2012 Olympics, died in a car accident last night in Texas. He was the volunteer assistant coach at Texas A&M University, his former school, where he assisted with 400-metre and 800-metre athletes.
“Words cannot adequately express our sadness at the devastating and untimely loss of three-time Olympian and Olympic and World Championship bronze medallist Deon Lendore, who has been an inspiration and motivation to us all both on and off the track,” said Lewis. “Deon has flown the Trinidad and Tobago flag with pride, honour, patriotism and an indomitable will throughout his career while helping and inspiring many.
“We express our deepest and heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, teammates and coaches, Abilene Club, the community of Arima and all who he would have touched. It is a sad day for the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic and Commonwealth sport movement.
“May Deon rest and sleep in eternal peace.”
Lendore grew up in Mt Pleasant, Arima, and was introduced to track by his mother, Christine Lendore, who ran for the Abilene Wildcats in the 1970s. Arima produced more than a dozen Olympians but Lendore became their first Olympic medallist at just 20 years old.
It was fitting that Lendore’s best sporting moment came in the relay. Serrette, a veteran track administrator, said he was the ultimate team player.
“I remember a year one of his Abilene teammates disrespected the office of the [NAAATT] president and was suspended,” said Serrette. “Dion was away at the time. But when he came home and found out, he personally brought the athlete to me and asked him to apologise. And then he asked us to be lenient with him. That was a mark of the man he was.
“[…] He was a very humble individual, always a great team player. He was always such a dedicated athlete from juniors all the way up. This is a tragic loss.”
Serrette noted that Lendore was on the comeback trail last year after injury and performed creditably, only just missing out on a spot in the Olympic finals.
“To get that kind of news, it just tells you that no day is yours, yes,” he said. “You have to be grateful when you open your eyes in the morning because you never know. This is a tragic loss and he was an outstanding young man.”
For iconic former sprinter Ato Boldon, Trinidad and Tobago’s most decorated track star with four Olympic medals, Lendore was also great company.
“He was as everyone said, one of the nicest guys you could ever meet in the sport with a big laugh and always kicks,” said Boldon. “He got along with everyone. He was also a brilliant 400m runner who contributed majorly to the national effort at the highest level.”