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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A winning stride

 
 

Deon Lendore has accomplished running feats some athletes spend careers working for – and he began running at 15 years old. However, the 2014 NCAA indoor track and field champion in the 400 meters looks beyond to higher sights and loftier goals.
Lendore has racked up titles and set records for A&M and his native country, Trinidad and Tobago, which he represented at the 2012 London Olympics as the anchor of the 4×400 meter relay. The team earned a bronze medal and a newnational record.
“The last leg of the Olympics was something I won’t forget,” Lendore said. “Seeing all the flashing lights and noise during the last 20 meters is something that I think about often. It still motivates me when I practice.”
Hailing from Queen’s Royal College High School in Trinidad, the Texas A&M junior’s interest in soccer nearly took away the opportunity to try track.
“I played soccer and was really fast,” Lendore said. “When I finally ran in a meet, I beat the other guys who were actually in track. I tried to do track and soccer at the same time but my coach told me I would get farther in the Caribbean running track than playing soccer.”
After compiling titles in national races, college scouts started to take notice – especially Texas A&M.
“After I competed in the [Caribbean Free Trade Association U-20 Games] and placed second to Kirani James, a coach contacted someone that contacted me to set up a visit,” Lendore said. “Kirani was the fastest runner and I was second to him, so that was a big deal.”
Lendore was scheduled to tour many Division I schools, but his search ended after visiting the A&M campus and track program. His decision had been made.
“I had visited Alabama and Auburn but after visiting A&M, I didn’t even want to go visit Baylor,” Lendore said, chuckling. “I just liked the school so much.”
Although a professional career may be on the horizon, Lendore remains focused on his collegiate performances. Lendore said his goal is to win his first NCAA outdoor track and field championship, and Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry believes in Lendore’s ability.
“He’s the best quarter-miler in the country,” Henry said after Lendore won the NCAA Indoor title. “Any time you’re a national champion in the NCAA, then you are big time. I’m extremely proud of Deon.”
Lendore recognizes the challenges that come with being in the top spot and how difficult it is to remain there.
“Once you’re on the top, everyone sees the potential you have, so it’s hard to get better and stay up there,” Lendore said. “Being a national champion is the best feeling there is. You work so hard to reach the top. I’m willing to work and do all that needs to be done to be an outdoor national champion as well.”
A&M assistant coach Alleyne Francique said Lendore’s discipline and determination has helped transform him into the leader he is today.
“He is definitely a fighter and shows a lot of leadership qualities,” Francique said. “He is a leader of the team and a real hard worker.”
Lendore said the opportunities he has been given on the track inspire him to help underprivileged kids follow their track dreams, just as he did.
“I would like to help kids [back home] who may not have the money to participate in sports but may have the potential to be good,” Lendore said. “I was raised by a single mom and we didn’t have that much money so I would like to help kids like that.”
Lendore and the rest of the A&M track and field team are competing through Saturday in the 87th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.

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