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T&T Olympian Deon Lendore, a junior at Texas A&M brought glory yet again for his school when he captured a gold medal in the 400m event at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, in Eugene, Oregon, USA, on Friday. Lendore, who earlier this year won the NCAA 400m indoor crown, stopped the clock in 45.02 seconds, after winning heat one in 45.18. He became only the second runner from his school to capture the 400m outdoor crown. The last Texas A&M athlete to win it was Curtis Mills in 1969, who set a school record of 44.67, which Lendore broke recently with a 44.36-second effort in winning the South-Eastern conference title. It was the perfect double for Lendore, who finished runner-up in the outdoor event in 2013.
Lendore had to endure the pressure of home-favourite, Mike Berry, who held a good challenge against the T&T runner particularly in the final 70m. Berry placed second in 45.07. In March, Lendore claimed his first US-national individual title after winning the NCAA Indoor Championships 400m final in 45.21 seconds. Lendore, who has been described by his coach Pat Henry as the fastest quarter-miler in the country said he was pleased with his recent achievements. “I was trying to get the double because it’s a nice double to have,” he said. “So I’m thankful I accomplished that goal. I know the crowd was helping Berry a lot, but I tried to use the crowd to help me power back into the lead and get the win.” Lendore was expected to feature in his team’s 4x400m final, which took place last evening. Meanwhile, another T&T athlete, Janeil Bellille, who represents Texas A&M, placed third in the women’s 400m hurdles on Friday. She clocked 56.14 seconds, an improvement on her 56.44 which she ran a day prior in the semifinal. The race was won by her team-mate, Shamier Little in 55.07 for a school record.