THE CONTRIBUTION that Deon Lendore made to the lives of coaches, athletes and friends at Texas A&M (Agricultural and Mechanical) University was remembered in an emotional memorial service held at the college campus, on Thursday night.
Lendore, a three-time TT Olympian, died on January 10 in a car accident in Texas, United States.
Lendore, a volunteer assistant coach at Texas A&M, was on the way home from practice when the accident occured.
The 29-year-old achieved numerous accolades during his life. He was a member of the TT men's 4x400-metre team which earned bronze at the 2012 London Olympics. In 2019, he was part of the quartet which won gold at the World Relays in Yokohama, Japan. Many paid tribute to the former 400m athlete who enrolled at Texas A&M in 2012.
Alleyne Francique, who coached Lendore, was moved to tears. Francique said Lendore was the first Caribbean athlete he recruited who was still based in the Caribbean. The Grenadian said he told other coaches at the college, "We got to get him."
Francique reflected on Lendore's character. "He was a young man with many qualities. He was caring...he was courageous and he loves his family."
Francique said Lendore was friendly as he would talk to his competitors. Francique would tell Lendore, "What are you doing? They trying to take what you want, you too nice."
Lendore's brother-in-law Kieve Vanloo, who called the former athlete "tall man", flew from TT for the service. "He always dreamed of accomplishing great things. He was always an overachiever and was very passionate about sports," Vanloo said.
Lendore, a former Queen's Royal College and Abilene Wildcats athlete, made his community of Arima proud when he was accepted at Texas A&M, Vanloo said. "It was a celebration like no other.
"We the family will be forever grateful to you Texas A&M for making Deon a part of your family."
Senior associate athletic trainer Saul Luna said Lendore always remained humble and approachable and was there when called upon. He said other athletes can emulate Lendore's drive. "Put in the work and the dedication and time to be ready, so you could answer the call when the call comes and when that call comes get ready to take your shot."
Coach Pat Henry said Lendore had the ability "to lift those around him." Henry said Lendore was a motivator who inspired others.
Henry recalled a funny story when they gave Lendore a pair of pants, but it did not fit as it only reached his shin. Henry said Lendore never complained about the length of the pants. "That was Deon's brand."
Many others paid tribute to Lendore including former teammates, family members and TT athletes.
TT runner Janeil Bellille, in a tearful address, said, "He was a fearless champion. I googled leader today (Thursday) and Deon Lendore came up because he was a leader...he was always willing to put the team on his back."
The service was also filled with laughter as people reflected on Lendore's life. Lendore was remembered as having a huge appetite. Lendore attempted to cook TT dishes for his friends in the US, but was disappointed with the final product. Others said they often did not understand Lendore when he spoke because of his accent.