Deon Lendore lived up to his billing as favourite, striking gold in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 Indoor Track and Field Championship menís 400 metres event, in New Mexico, USA, late on Saturday.
The Trinidad and Tobago quarter-miler produced a fast 45.21 seconds clocking to capture the title, forcing Americans Vernon Norwood (45.46) and Arman Hall (45.52) to settle for silver and bronze, respectively.
Lendore was also tipped for top honours in the 400m at the 2013 Championships, but was hampered by a calf injury, and finished sixth in the finals. The Texas A&M University student made up for that disappointment on Saturday, capturing the title with an impressive run.
ďBeing a national champion is the best feeling there is,Ē said Lendore. ďYou work so hard to reach the top. When you get there you have to work twice as hard to stay on top, because staying on top is the hardest thing to do. Iím willing to work and do all that needs to be done to be an outdoor national champion as well.Ē
Wayne Davis II bagged bronze in the menís 60m hurdles, the T&T/Texas A&M athlete getting to the line in 7.61 seconds. A silver medallist in the event last year, Davis finished third this time around, behind Jamaican Omar McLeod, the winner in 7.58, and US Virgin Islands athlete Eddie Lovett, who also clocked 7.58.
ďItís unacceptable for me to finish third,Ē said a disappointed Davis. ďI didnít really do what I needed to do out there. I got too close to one of the hurdles and thatís when they got ahead. Itís just really me being able to stay away from those hurdles when Iím ahead or doing well. If I can do that, then the race should be mine.Ē
Penn State University junior, Steve Waithe disturbed the sand at 15.81 metres to finish sixth in the menís triple jump.
And in the womenís 800m, another T&T athlete, University of Minnesotaís Alena Brooks was seventh in two minutes, 08.31 seconds.
T&Tís Janeil Bellille produced a 52.22 seconds split on the third leg to help Texas A&M earn bronze in the womenís 4x400m in 3:31.31. University of Oregon (3:27.40) and University of Texas (3:27.42) claimed gold and silver, respectively.
There was disappointment, however, for Texas A&M in the menís 4x400m. T&T quarter-miler Carlyle Roudette split an impressive 45.40 on the second leg. But Texas A&M dropped the baton on the third leg following a collision with University of Florida, leaving anchorman Lendore with too much ground to make up, and his team finished fourth in the section and 12th overall in 3:15.81. Texas A&M and Florida were later disqualified.
Texas A&M finished fifth in the womenís team competition with 35 points, while Minnesota were 51st with two points. Oregon (44) and Texas (43.5) were first and second, respectively, while University of Georgia (40.5) and Florida (40.5) tied for third.
Texas A&M were eighth among the men with 18 points, and Penn State finished 32nd with six points. Oregon (62) emerged victorious, finishing ahead of University of Arkansas (54) and Florida (35).