It took a while for the news of national quarter-miler Deon Lendore's passing to sink in but his teammate Machel Cedenio had to come to the realisation: "Deon is gone."
Lendore, at the age of 29, died on Monday in a car accident in Texas, USA.
"First of all I would like to say condolences to his family and his coach Mr Charlie." said Cedenio referring to Charlie Joseph, Lendore's local club Abilene Wildcats coach.
Speaking to Guardian Media Sports on Wednesday Cedenio said: "When I heard the news last night, it was unbelievable. I was like this got to be fake no way this could be true and then after a while, it started to circulate on social media and that is when reality really hit - Deon is gone."
Lendore of Arima was a three-time Olympian, who anchored T&T to a bronze in the 4x400 metres relay at the London Games in England in 2012. He was also a World Championships silver medallist in the 400m event in 2015, won three bronze medals in the World Indoor Championships.
"Deon, he was the backbone of the 4x4 team, he was the backbone of Trinidad's national athletics team, he was our team captain, he was the guy we always appoint to be in charge of us, doing things like getting to the bus on time. It's very sad and tragic that we have to suffer a loss for someone like Deon.
The season ahead is a packed one with the World Indoor Championships carded in March, World Outdoor Championships in July and the Commonwealth Games in July/August. The local athletics team which include Cedenio will no have to face it without Lendore, a former student of Queen's Royal College and Texas A&M University.
"We really are like a family because we came up through the ranks together, all of us, we been on Secondary Schools Games, Carifta, World Juniors, CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Games at a youth level so when you actually grow with someone develop into being a professional with someone, that's why it really hits home.
"Yes, we are competitors but on the track, yes that's our job whatever, but off the track, we all have a love for each other.
Cedenio spoke proudly of Lendore describing his late teammate as a genuine person.
"Deon was always as the type of guy that, no matter what you know race day, he will always be that one guy everybody goes to for advice and would always give the most genuine advice, he always make you feel better about yourself, he would be like that one athlete that would bring out your 'A-game. Not having him there anymore is really tragic.
"Ironically, just last week we had our meeting about World Indoors and you know they picked the team, it was me, Deon, Jereem (Richards), Asa (Guevera), you know we all were planning for the upcoming World Indoor Games and one week later this news is like 'wow'. Life is just so unexpected. I'm still trying to come to terms with this. This is really, really, really sad that we have to lose such a great friend," said Cedenio.
He plans to pay tribute to Lendore this season.
"I'm personally dedicating this season and going forward to my boy, Deon because I wouldn't be who I am today without him. He played a big factor in my track career. He was like the big brother to all the younger guys myself, Jereem, Asa, Jonathan Farinha, Nathan Farinha. He was all our mentors.
"He was like that one guy we always look up to coming through the ranks as I mentioned earlier he was the first guys that we knew personally that went to college and at that point in time everybody wanted to go to (Texas) A&M. That was like the No 1 school that was on everyone's list and then as we get older things to change everybody went a different path but that's just the impact Deon had on all of us.
"We wanted to be like him, he was like the funny guy, he was cool with everyone, he was the one everybody wanted to be like him, he was fast and he was just so humble so it's like," Cedenio sighed, paused and continued: "This is like the worse news ever."
Cedenio shared that he and his 4x400m teammate learned of Lendore's death via news circulating on social media and hoped it was a joke.
"We were all were puzzled at first then news reporters started to pick up on the story.
"When I got up this morning I saying, please let it be a rumour that a joke went too far or whatever but then when news stations started reporting it, that's when I was like, this is the reality that we have to deal with and comfort one another like the 4x4 guys, everybody is pretty much in a mess because he was like the backbone of our team.
"One of the things that people don't know, back in 2019 when we won World Relays, Deon was the guy who picked the order of the team. He was so influential to us, we trusted him as an athlete. We had our team meeting with the coaches but with his knowledge, he went to college. He had all this experience. This is what going to happen to the USA and exactly what he said is what happened and we won gold so that is just the type of impact Deon had on all of us."
On the legacy that Lendore will leave for T&T track and field, Cedenio said: "If you just look at his resume, World Indoor individual medallist two-times, multiple podiums we got on the 4x4. Deon would definitely go down as one of the great.
"I hope in Arima, they name something after him. I hope his legacy lives on because he left the comfort of his home country to go to the next country to sacrifice, chase his dreams and something tragic like this happens."