TRIBUTES poured in for former TT track and field athlete Deon Lendore at the Santa Rosa RC Church in Arima, on Thursday.

Lendore’s relative Patrice Espinoza, principal of Queen’s Royal College David Simon, principal of Arima Boys' Government Kurt Flemming, president of Abilene Wildcats Shedley Branche and TT Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis were among those who spoke.

Lendore died in a car accident in Texas, USA, on January 10. He was 29. Former president of the National Association of Athletics Adminstrations Ephraim Serrette, Lendore’s coach at Texas A&M Pat Henry and coach at Abilene Wildcats Charlie Joseph also attended the funeral.

Henry flew to Trinidad from the US for the service.

Lewis said Lendore was a leader. “He was always committed to making them (family/friends) proud…Deon Lendore made a huge impact as a role model for other aspiring athletes and young people.”

Espinoza said everyone in the family admired Lendore, saying he was “our hero.”

“When Deon made it he made us feel like we all made it.”

Espinoza said family meant the world to him. “People underestimate the value of true friendship and moral support. What would most of our lives be if it wasn’t for Deon’s involvement? Whether it was his words of wisdom, his constant show of support…he knew what everyone needed to hear at the right point in time.”

Branche said the name of the Abilene Wildcats track and field meet will be changed to honour their former athlete.

“He will surely be missed, but will never be forgotten by all of us here at Abilene…on behalf of the executive committee of the Abilene Wildcats Athletic Club we hereby announce that our annual track meet the Abilene Wildcats Track Classic will be re-named to The Deon Lendore Memorial Track Classic.”

Branche recalled Lendore’s athletic prowess calling him the king of the hill as he would impress everyone with his fitness running up Calvary Hill in Arima where the club trained. Branche said he was a “unique and special athlete.”

Simon, wearing a blue QRC t-shirt, said he thought of dressing in a suit but knew Lendore would not have been pleased.

Simon said if he wore a suit, Lendore would have said, “You can’t be real coming to represent a blue blood wearing a black suit, therefore I am clad from head to toe even down to my watch in blue because indeed I am here to represent and send off in a grand way a true blue blood. Deon embodied everything that is, was and will be Queen’s Royal College.”

Simon called Lendore’s mother a “champion” because of her dedication to parenthood.

Simon felt it was unfair to represent QRC alone. He read statements from former principal Lennard Hinkson and former teacher Wayne Marcano. Hinkson was the principal of QRC when Lendore was a student and Marcano travelled with QRC relay teams to compete overseas. Flemming said Lendore would never forget his roots and would visit Arima Boys’ Government

“Deon (is) gone too quickly, but the fact remains that he had created a legacy in a short space of time.”

Flemming wants his students at Arima Boys’ Government to emulate Lendore’s honesty, dedication and discipline.