Home / Rio 2016 / Geddert: Thema is not injured! US gymnast coach says TTGF made ‘irrational’ decision

Geddert: Thema is not injured! US gymnast coach says TTGF made ‘irrational’ decision

Thema Williams’ coach, John Geddert, has slammed the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation for its supposed irrational decision in withdrawing Williams from the 2016 Rio Olympics Test Event, which will take place tomorrow on Sunday April 17.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams.

And, more relevantly, Geddert insisted that Williams is physically fine, despite the fact that the TTGF used a report from the coach as justification for axing the former St Joseph’s Convent (Port of Spain) student.

“I wish to say that portions of my report were blown out of context and exaggerated,” stated Geddert, in a email that was leaked to Wired868. “Therefore when I said ‘podium was a disaster’, this is to be taken in the context of several athletes who performed on that day.

“In fact the reason for this was—and this is not limited to Thema—as she was getting used to the lighting, podium, ceiling height and other acclimatization factors. The rationale for the podium is to have the athlete acclimatize themselves to the competition arena.

“This ‘6 falls’ reason singled out by you to pull her is irrational in  my respectful view. Furthermore, Thema went on to perform an almost flawless routine on the bars…

“I now confirm that the doctor has cleared Thema to compete in the circumstance using her good judgement as the determining factor. I, as Thema’s coach, require that she continues to represent the country.”

Photo: United States head coach John Geddert (right) hugs gymnast Gabrielle Douglas at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Geddert trains Trinidad and Tobago gymnast, Thema Williams, at his gym in Michigan. (Courtesy Desert News)
Photo: United States head coach John Geddert (right) hugs gymnast Gabrielle Douglas at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Geddert trains Trinidad and Tobago gymnast, Thema Williams, at his gym in Michigan.
(Courtesy Desert News)

Geddert’s claim is likely to form part of a legal appeal by Williams, which will aim to reinstate the gymnast by tomorrow morning. At the moment, the TTGF has given her place at the Test event to alternate, Marisa Dick.

Wired868 will provide more details of the appeal shortly.

The following are the emails exchanged between Geddert, who led the US women to gold at the London 2012 Olympics, and TTGF president, Marquez:

(From coach John Geddert to the TTGF)

At 7.24 pm on April 15: …Podium was a disaster with 6 falls on 3 events. She has been dealing with a sore ankle to the point that I asked her to withdraw last week. She assured me she can do this.

We have been limiting all pounding and landings yet today she showed little signs of being able to perform well. We will rest tomorrow and rely on heart…

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation officials (from right) Ricardo Lue Shue, Elicia Peters-Charles and David Marquez pose with Sport Minister Darryl Smith (second from right). (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation officials (from right) Ricardo Lue Shue, Elicia Peters-Charles and David Marquez pose with Sport Minister Darryl Smith (second from right).
(Courtesy SPORTT)

(From TTGF president David Marquez to Geddert)

At 12.27 am on April 16: Good Evening John, Please note that I tried calling you at the hotel and on your cell numerous times but all went to voicemail.

Your e-mailed report you sent to Frances earlier tonight has caused great concern for our Federation. Your comments about pulling Thema a week ago because of her injury but allowing her to make the call seems it was not the best of judgements evidenced by your description of day 3: “Podium was a disaster with 6 falls on 3 events.” At this level, this is totally unacceptable.

You went on further to explain that: “We have been limiting all pounding and landings yet today she showed little signs of being able to perform well.”

What this says to us John it is that Thema will not perform well at this competition due to her injury. This is a country place and as a federation we must do what is best for the country, i.e. ensuring the best athlete represents the country.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick competes at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. Dick placed 14th with a total of 51.25. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick competes at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
Dick placed 14th with a total of 51.25.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

As a result, the Federation has unanimously decided to pull Thema from the test event. Arrangements are being made to have the alternate Marisa Dick compete.

We do suggest that Thema be taken to the meet physician to report on the extent of her injury. We would appreciate a copy of that report.

As a Federation, we know this is hard for the athlete but the facts are clear, she is just not at her best due to an injury that should have been reported to the federation earlier. Again we have to do what is best for the country which is to give us the best chance to qualify for the Olympic Games.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

Respectfully,

David Marquez – President

Trinidad & Tobago Gymnastics Federation

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams performs a handstand at John Geddert's Twistars Gymnastics Club in Michigan. (Courtesy Thema Williams)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams performs a handstand at John Geddert’s Twistars Gymnastics Club in Michigan.
(Courtesy Thema Williams)

(From coach John Geddert to the TTGF)

At 5.17 pm on April 16: Dear TTGF, I write to you in response to your email sent on Saturday 16th April, 2016 at 12.27 am. I wish to say that portions of my report were blown out of context and exaggerated.

Therefore when I said podium was a disaster, this is to be taken in the context of several athletes who performed on that day. In fact, the reason for this was—and this is not limited to Thema—as she was getting used to the lighting, podium, ceiling height and other acclimatization factors.

The rationale for the podium is to have the athlete acclimatize themselves to the competition arena. This ‘6 falls’ reason singled out by you to pull her is irrational in  my respectful view.

Furthermore, Thema went on to perform an almost flawless routine on the bars. I reiterate that my statement in my report “we have been limiting all pounding and landings” is normal (…) during the preparation period leading up to an important event (we used the same strategy going into World Championships).

Photo: Thema Williams of Trinidad And Tobago competes on the uneven bars during the 2015 World Gymnastics Championship in Glasgow, Scotland, on 23 October 2015. (Copyright AFP 2016/Andy Buchanan)
Photo: Thema Williams of Trinidad And Tobago competes on the uneven bars during the 2015 World Gymnastics Championship in Glasgow, Scotland, on 23 October 2015.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Andy Buchanan)

I say this as her coach knowing the intent, purport and weight that this carries. I do not limit it to my words. I now confirm that the doctor has cleared Thema to compete in the circumstance using her good judgement as the determining factor.

I as Thema’s coach require that she continues to represent the country. I also continue to rely on my earlier email sent on the 16th April 2016 at 12.57 pm.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

Check Also

We had to take Dick! TTOC offers curt Thema response and vows to “resist potential distractions”

The Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) reiterated today that it had “no choice but …

147 comments

  1. “Unfairness – this is hardest to deal with, but unfortunately that is how our country works. People with connections, rich dads, beautiful faces, and fair skin find it easier to make it – not just in Trinidad and Tobago, but everywhere. And sometimes it is just plain luck. There are so few opportunities for us as black people, so many stars need to be aligned for us to make it happen. Merit and hard work is not always linked to achievement in the short term, but the long term correlation is high, and ultimately things do work out. But realize, there will be some people luckier than we are all unfair game dose play over. AM SOOOOO MAAADD #Thema

  2. Best move since sliced bread.

  3. Just heard you on i95.5. Nice interview Lasana Liburd!

  4. Lol is so funny that after all this people think that the TTGF committee would do the “honorable thing” and resign ….if this involved “honour” would this have gone down in the first place?

  5. Based on what I read in Lasana’s piece, the coach made it quite clear that Thema could have performed and he left instructions with another coach to execute his functions pertaining to the Thema’s performance. It now stands to reason that the TTGF, acted in haste and more than likely, with some degree of bias in pulling Thema. The following questions beg,…was Thrma medically examined?..NO, was Maria medically examined?..NO. There are so many other factors in this case which will hamper the performance of Maria, the long flying hours, the stop over, the emotional last minute decision, and the most important in this issue is not having a coach who is accustomed to the athletes routine, this discipline needs concentration and calm nerves. Really, there is little blame which can be attributed to Thema’s team, so the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the TTGF who in the first place was reluctant with the Thema’s selection and then hasten to replace her without documented proof (medical), how biased can one be, or to put it mildly…how stupid can an executive be…are they really fit to lead, administrate, be perceived to be neutral in their dealings? If they are not, they should therefore do the honourable thing and vacate office…or be removed.

  6. When an incident like this occurs, the athletes are not to be blamed, their involvement is merely their ability to perform at their best in order to gain selection. The problem though, is when we have corrupted and biased minds involved in the selection process…coaches, a selection committee, a biased and unqualified administration and dishonest or unrealistic supporters, that’s where the problem arises. What governs all of the above though, is a strong, fair and honest administration. Do we have those qualities in the TTGF?..”questionable” is the general consensus.

  7. Next time d coach should say what he really means now is he who put her out bottom line

  8. I would like to see the coach’s email. He may have to take some of the blame this time

  9. Hard part is….If the canadian federation called Dick….would she even be knocking on Trinidads door. And oh they just happened to be able to buy a ticket to Rio yesterday? They had this planed already. Just so happend that the supposedly got a “valid excuse” so it wont “look bad”.
    Again mediocraty at its best. The lower ranked athlete gets to go in place of the other….absolute crap.

  10. Obviously, what ever decision the TTGF came up with, after the controversy some time ago, the one underlining factor which remains is that the are not fit to govern. The entire executive should do the honourable thing and voluntarily tender their resignations as no one now has the confidence that they could / would be trusted with true governance. Seems to me that their intention was always to send the alternate to the qualifiers, it was just a matter of simmering the fire until an excuse arose, whether legitimate or not, then move forward with their agenda. But then, will we allow this injustice to prematurely end like every other injustice, which prevailed in other associations in the past?…I say NO..they have to vacate their high and mighty positions, or we would have failed as a sporting community to support fair play in selection of TEAMS, whether local or international which clearly reflects on team or individual performance and results.

  11. I remember a Chinese gymnast who fell in the Olympics and became paralyzed …. Kinda hoping lightening cud strike this evening in Rio and you know who is struck and paralyzed … so damn angry!

  12. I wish these old ass people who run this organization and done live they lives would stop playing with young people life and passion. These people on the board probably never participated in an international competition and only hold credentials via what they pay for.

  13. Agreed! They didn’t think that Marisa would move so quickly and fly down to Brazil- her coach waited until the LAST second to alert TTGF and when they tried contacting him he was conveniently UNAVAILABLE. If she was “NOT injured” like he is stating NOW- retracting his EMAIL then why did he leave Brazil? If there was a family emergency why did he not secure a TEMP/ REPLACEMENT coach?
    The whole Thema camp was aware of Thema’s injuries and Marisa’s nudish picture they just wanted to deflect the light from Thema!

  14. Didn’t you all read what her coach said?
    He said he asked her to withdrw due to a sore ankle!!!
    He now wants to turn around and say his email was taken out of context!

  15. They seriously playing with this girl’s athletic career. Won’t be surprised if she migrates to where she can get the proper recognition due her and real opportunities to succeed.

  16. hope she fails to qualify or does one honourable thing and does not perform but that is hoping for too much

  17. Do much hate for one black girl….i starting to feel we ent getting the whole history behind Thema and the TTGF…..something ent rite boi

  18. They are really out to get this girl. Imagine after all her sacrifice they pull her out now at the last minute. These people are unfit to run anything. Another WICB.

  19. When i thought WICB was the worst, up comes this hijack by TTGF. Petty and small-minded “officials”!

  20. The mind set is difficult to change. She does not fit the mold. Be real.