Deon Lendore will be dearly missed.
The T&T quarter-miler died in a car accident on Monday night in Texas, USA. He was 29.
An online report about the crash on ABC13 stated: "At least two people are dead following a head-on crash involving multiple vehicles in north Houston.
"Police said the crash happened Monday at 7.10 pm in the 11600 block of Bannister Lane. A Dodge truck was heading westbound on Little York, when the driver lost control, crossed the median and struck a Kia, which hit a tow truck that was towing another car.
"A neighbour told ABC13 he heard four crashes right outside his house. He said he ran outside and called 911.
"According to police, a woman that was ejected from the Dodge truck was pronounced dead at the scene. Meanwhile, the driver of the truck suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital.
According to the report, Lendore (later identified) was the second person killed he was the driver (Lendore) of the Kia. Police believe speed played a factor in the crash, but are still investigating.
Lendore, a native of Arima, thrived on the track in his shortened career. He was a three-time Olympian, anchoring this country to a bronze in the men's 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 while he was also a 4x400 bronze medalist at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, three years ago.
As a junior, he copped three silver medals at the Pan Am Junior Championships and a silver at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games.
Lendore of Arima, who leaves his mother and sister to mourn, went on to enjoy a flourishing career with Texas A&M University in the NCAA, winning the famous Bowerman award in 2014.
Achievements celebrated by his local club, Abilene Wildcats coach Charlie Joseph and when reached by Guardian Media Sports, he paid homage to the star athlete.
Joseph said: "Deon, the way he started at Abilene, I could tell from the first day that he would be something special. He was a very hard worker.
"And at that very young age, he had a goal and he just went after that. I remember telling him when he was leaving on scholarship, I said 'nothing you do when you're at school will surprise me.' I mean as far as running fast. He was that special.
"He was a model athlete on and off the field."
Joseph added that Lendore, a former student of Queen's Royal College (QRC), was easy to coach and had the potential to flourish even more this season.
"I felt this year he would have been running much faster than years before because when he was in school for the four years it took something out of him, injuries, he was just tired and last year at the Olympics was the first year really he ran injury-free and we saw what he did, he ran pretty good so he was looking forward to this year," said Joseph who had spoken to the celebrated athlete just several days ago.
"We always talk. We spoke about training He would call me and tell me, say 'I had a hard day today and he would tell me what he did. That's the kind of guy he was. From the time he went on scholarship to three days ago, he would call me every week, we always talk."
The Abilene coach feels that Lendore has left a great legacy for the young athletes - his dedication, being a hard worker which saw him achieve greatly.
"I think he left a lot, a lot because whenever he is here, I would let him coach the younger ones and we would show them technical things and all these guys who are on the national team now look up to him. So all those guys now are breaking down like myself. We just don't believe it," said Joseph, still trying to term with Lendore's passing.
George Comissiong, president of the National Association of Athletics Administrations of T&T (NAAATT), who also extended condolences to Lendore's family, was also devastated by the news.
"It is a tragic loss, one that we are feeling immensely. Losses like these are normally difficult to comprehend and we are still grappling with it.
"Deon was one of our better athletes undoubtedly but certainly not apart from his athletic prowess, he brings a certain vibe, spirit to the team and we are certainly going to miss that. I've seen him grow over the years, 2008 when he would have made his debut at the national level and most recently at the 2020 Olympics."
Comissiong, who served as manager of the track and field team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan, reflected on the memory of seeing Lendore, Machel Cedenio and Jereem Richards pushing a wheelchair with Dwight St Hillaire following the 4x400m final.
"Despite the team not winning a medal, members had rallied behind the injured St Hillaire. Whereas one may have expected blame and acrimony, Lendore and the other members of the team were celebrating St Hillaire’s commitment to finishing his leg. In terms of team spirit, one cannot ask for more."
According to Comissiong, following the recent election of the new NAAATT board, Lendore accepted an invitation to serve on the Athletes Sub-Committee, where he was expected to share his knowledge and extensive experience for the improvement of the sport.
In a release sent out by his organisation yesterday, the NAAATT said of the beloved athlete: “We have lost a tremendous athlete, our country one of its better sons.
"NAAATT joins with the national community in mourning the unexpected and tragic passing of one of its top athletes Mr Deon Lendore. The news of Lendore’s death in a vehicular accident in Texas late on Monday has sent shockwaves across the fraternity.
"Despite his young age (29); he has been a regular on national teams for the past 14 years. He was an excellent quarter-miler who has contributed significantly to the country’s overall medal tally in both the individual 400m event and as part of the 4x400m relay team."
It added that Lendore was expected to play a major role this year on the national teams to the World Athletics Indoor Championships to be held in Belgrade, Serbia March 18-20, World Athletics (Outdoor) Championships in Oregon, USA, July 15-24; and the Commonwealth Games, Birmingham, England, August 2-7.
"T&T has lost a sporting icon and role model. Lendore leaves a significant hole in the tapestry of local athletics. He will be remembered not just for his contributions on the track but his willingness to help, to smile and to put the success of the collective first," the release added.
Deon Lendore's career achievements
2019 - Bronze (4x400m) - Pan American Games, Lima, Peru
2018 - Bronze (400m) - World Indoor Championships, Birmingham, England
2016 - Bronze (400m) - World Indoor Championships, Portland, USA
2016 - Bronze (4x400m) - World Indoor Championships, Portland, USA
2015 - Silver (4x400m) - World Championships, Beijing, China
2012 - Bronze (4x400m) - Olympics, London, England
2011 - Gold (4x400m) Carifta Games, Montego Bay, Jamaica; 2 Silver (400m and 4X400m) Pan American Junior Championships in Miramar, USA; Silver (4x400m) CAC Championships, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
2010 - Silver 400m; Bronze 4x400, Carifta Games, George Town, Cayman Islands; Bronze 400m and Gold 4x400m CAC Juniors in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
2009 - Silver (4x400m) in Pan American Junior Championships, Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain
2008 - Bronze (4x400m) Carifta Games, Basseterre, St Lucia