Gutsy Lendore 3rd at Diamond League final

A gutsy run from Deon Lendore earned the Trinidad and Tobago track star Men’s 400 metres bronze at the Wanda Diamond League final in Zurich, Switzerland, yesterday.

Lendore got around the track in 44.81 seconds — his second fastest time this year and the fourth fastest run of his career. Lendore, whose personal best is 44.36, clocked a season’s best 44.73 in finishing second at the Diamond League meet in Stockholm, Sweden, in July.

“Once you can finish top-three in a high-calibre race,” Lendore told the Daily Express yesterday, “you should always be proud, no matter the time. This is my first Diamond League Final so I’m definitely proud of myself. I’m very satisfied. This is my first season in a while finishing healthy.

“I’ve pushed my body to its limits,” the Arima athlete continued. “I need a vacation and my mother’s cooking, so I’ll head back home to reset my mind and body.”

The man who beat Lendore to the line in Stockholm, Kirani James seized silver yesterday, the Grenadian getting home in 44.42 seconds. American Michael Cherry tumbled over the line to snatch gold in 44.41, edging James for the Diamond Trophy and US$30,000 top prize.

Running in lane six, Lendore was solid over the first 100 metres. Meanwhile, James, in five, went out aggressively, and by the 150-metre mark had made up the stagger on Lendore. The T&T quartermiler, however, dug deep in his bid to stay in contention, keeping in touch with James and Cherry.

At the top of the home straight, Lendore looked set for a podium finish. And 50 metres from the line, he had bronze in his grasp, with Cherry and James in a tight tussle for gold. Vernon Norwood closed fast, but Lendore battled to the line, holding off the American to secure the US$7,000 third prize. Norwood was fourth in 44.84.

At the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, last month, Lendore finished fourth in his semi-final heat and ninth overall in 44.93. The top eight progressed to the final. Lendore closed off his 2021 campaign with a total of three sub-45 clockings—the most he has produced in a single season.

“The only thing that really hurt was finishing ninth at the Olympics. That’s too close to not make it. But I give God all the glory for getting me that far. It’s my best performance at a major championship. I’m very confident for the upcoming season. I’ve doubted myself because of injuries and such, but now I think I’m unlocking the newer version of the old me.”

Lendore said it has been discouraging to have his credentials constantly second-guessed.

“I’ve said my name needed respect because I’ve been doubted all season. You can give your all, and they always compare you to the opponents and what they’re doing. Why not compare their support to what we get? It’s not an even playing field. There’s so much I can say but I’ve realised the more you say, the more you’re likely to get put on the waitlist with respect to getting support you need.

“I think this season and what we’ve all been through shows that the sport can swing any direction it wants. What we need to realise though is that it’s more likely to swing in the direction of those who have a stronger support system. Listen to the athletes. We see what goes on behind the scenes. We aren’t just blowing smoke and complaining,” Lendore ended. “There’s more to this sport.”