Home / Rio 2016 / Thema’d have qualified on her worst day! Geddert blasts TTGF’s ‘unthinkable’ act

Thema’d have qualified on her worst day! Geddert blasts TTGF’s ‘unthinkable’ act

“It was the most unthinkable thing any organisation could do to an athlete who had invested so much time…”

United States international gymnastics coach John Geddert blasted the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF), during an interview with I95.5 FM this evening, for destroying the Rio 2016 Olympic dreams of local gymnast, Thema Williams.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) is serenaded by 2016 International Soca Monarch Aaron “Voice” St Louis at the Piarco International Airport on her return from Rio on Wednesday 20 April 2016. Looking on are Williams' parents, Leon Williams (right) and Helen Adams (second from left). (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) is serenaded by 2016 International Soca Monarch Aaron “Voice” St Louis at the Piarco International Airport on her return from Rio on Wednesday 20 April 2016.
Looking on are Williams’ parents, Leon Williams (right) and Helen Adams (second from left).
(Courtesy Wired868)

The live interview was conducted at the same time that the TTGF held its own press conference at the Chamber of Commerce in Westmoorings—the latter organisation scheduled its meeting a day after the radio station.

Williams was replaced by her alternate, Marisa Dick, on Friday night although TTGF president David Marquez only informed Geddert of the decision on Saturday morning. The gymnastics board never officially communicated its decision to Williams.

Geddert, whose report on Williams’ poor training performance on Friday and sore ankle was cited as the TTGF’s reason for replacing the athlete, told I.95.5 FM that he regrets the wording of his email.

“I regret sending them a report that was incomplete,” said Geddert, “and I regret sending them the ammunition to make the decision that I think they always wanted to make…

“Thema had a disappointing practice. Athletes have disappointing practises all the time…

“You are supposed to give them an honest report of what is going on.… Now, in hindsight, it obviously should not have been.”

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 Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)
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 Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)

Geddert justified his claim of TTGF bias against Williams by pointing out the board’s efforts to change the rules when his athlete initially qualified for the Rio Test event as well as its controversial decision to sanction her for a topless photo.

“They wanted to scratch her immediately (over the photograph) and then when one came out with Marisa the whole thing was dropped,” said Geddert. “I have dealt with countless associations over the years and I have never had to deal with so much drama as I’ve had in this two year period—ever.”

Geddert reiterated that Marquez did not make any meaningful effort to reach him, which was “unthinkable” for: “a decision of this magnitude with all that has been invested.”

Williams qualified for the Rio Test event by placing 59th at the Glasgow 2015 World Championships, which was 19 places higher than Dick.

However, Dick finished 55th of 61 participants in Rio to complete the job and secure a historic position at the Olympics for local gymnastics.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick performs at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. Dick was born in Canada to a Trinidadian mother, Hannifer. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick performs at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
Dick was born in Canada to a Trinidadian mother, Hannifer.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Geddert insisted that Williams would have breezed through the Test event on April 17. Asked specifically about Dick’s chances of medalling, the coach who led the United States to gold at the London 2012 Olympics said the Canada-born gymnast had “zero chance.”

“Thema on her worst day would have easily met the minimum score that ended up qualifying,” said Geddert, “and she was in no way primed to make her worst performance. We were pacing our stallion…

“(Dick) is a terrific young lady. She is not at fault. She didn’t make any decisions (although) she may have benefitted from some decisions.

“(But) the ability to run, jump, dance… Thema is a far superior athlete and she showed it at the World Championships.”

Geddert explained that he left Rio on Saturday night to attend to a family emergency—believed to be a funeral—because he felt Williams’ legal appeals were doomed to fail.

Photo: US women gymnastics team’s coach John Geddert celebrates with the rest of the team after the US won gold in the artistic gymnastics event of the London Olympic Games on 31 July 2012. Geddert coaches Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams in Michigan. (Copyright AFP 2016/Thomas Coex)
Photo: US women gymnastics team’s coach John Geddert celebrates with the rest of the team after the US won gold in the artistic gymnastics event of the London Olympic Games on 31 July 2012.
Geddert coaches Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams in Michigan.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Thomas Coex)

“Once we were within the 24 hour window, the game was over,” said Geddert. “There was no ability to appeal. We were will within that (24 hour period) when I got on a plane…

“She was there with her team manager (Nicole Fuentes) and she wanted to stay and she wasn’t coming home with me (to the United States). The game was over.”

Geddert described Williams as a wonderful role model for young athletes and was convinced that she would recover from her ill-fated attempt to get to the Olympics.

“She is a perfect role model for young athletes,” said the gymnastics coach. “She is smart, articulate, beautifully-spoken… I know Thema will land on her feet.

“She is a go-getter. As devastating as this may be, she is going to be fine.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (right) is welcomed home from Rio by her godmother and entertainer Nikki Crosby at the Piarco International Airport on Wednesday 20 April 2016. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (right) is welcomed home from Rio by her godmother and entertainer Nikki Crosby at the Piarco International Airport on Wednesday 20 April 2016.
(Courtesy Wired868)

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.

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187 comments

  1. We pay lip service to our athletes. Governing boards become petty tyrannical kingdoms and piggy banks for those in charge.

  2. TTGF’s could have made a Better Decision. Judging from how they Judged Thema I am saying they all look Bias not even Qualified for being on the TTGF Board. This Incredible Injustice will give her more support from the people of Trinidad.

  3. Trinis are in the habit of “cutting off the nose to spite the face” all the time!!

  4. Watch some of her floor moves..she would of done greatttt

  5. The following questions should be asked of the TTGF (1) When was the ticket purchase for Ms. Dick travel to Brazil. (2) When did ms. Dick get her Yellow Fever Shot because this is a most to travel to Brazil. (3) Prove of the travel itinerary for the Ms. Dick and company.

  6. Yup. But bad breed ppl doh noh nutten abt accountability……..

  7. It is a petty decisions like this being made and accepted…we move on in life like nothing. Decisions should have consecuences an those who took it must face it, life of a gymnast is up to 19 years old, after that you become a physical educator, ironic those who take it have no clue to be an athlete of olimpic level.

  8. This was truly a hard blow, to thema…imagine throwing you out to bring in someone who is not even from your country. …racism is an ugly act…

  9. Marisa Dick is a born Canadian she should not represent us,I don’t have anything against her,but fair is fair she is not a Trinidadian only one who is born here is so.

    • As much as we feel angered by the way Thema has been treated ,let’s not confuse issues . Marisa Dick has citizenship by right of decent .By your reasoning someone who arrives in Trinidad as a baby and lives here for 50 years is still not a Trinidadian even if both parents are Trinidadian.Don’t forget Chris Birchall had never been to Trinidad before being selected to play for the Soca Warriors ( his mother was a Trini) and his goal against Bahrain was vital in getting us to the 2006 World Cup.My main reservation with Miss Dick is that she is only using us to get to the Olympics and nothing more.

    • U jackass who is Chris berchell,who help t an t qualify for the work cup

    • Mohan Persad ,the 2006 WC in Germany .Your ignorance of common knowledge explains your need to resort to calling someone a Jack Ass . If you are able too you can Google facts nowadays you know.

    • You may not be aware of the rules for citizenship.

      As others have noted, should you have the good fortune to travel outside the country, and happen to have a child while abroad, your child will still be eligible for T&T citizenship. You will note that the US senator Ted Cruz, while born in Canada, meets the necessary criteria to run for US president, because he was born a citizen by descent. Just like Ms. Dick.

      Trinidad benefits by having many of its citizens abroad, enjoying facilities and training that is truly world class, yet coming home to compete for their country of choice.

      It may be true that bias played a role in the selection process – I cannot speak to the internal state of the selection committee. However, nationality is a legal matter, and most certainly Marissa is a citizen.

  10. I guess she has the wrong color… But this to shall pass she’ll always be blessed

  11. Geddert said when speaking of international standard practices in gymnastics for coaches reports: “You are supposed to give them an honest report of what is going on.… Now, in hindsight, it obviously should not have been.”
    This does not apply to Trinidad, bai.

  12. I agree!, she should have been allowed to compete. But they were scared she could have placed above Marisa. So she was BLOCKED !

  13. So glad this man is not keeping quiet

    • He should have known that there was opposition to Thema from some of the board and been clearer in his last report on her condition .As appalling as the boards actions were you must admit that he was playing right into the boards hands.

    • In the interview he admits his report was poorly worded and incomplete

    • Well that good for you if he admits to it.

    • On his defence, poorly worded and incomplete is not something you do not expect to be used at the Nth hour (bear in mind the day before the competition). I think he is trying to take responsibility for something he probably never had to think about, like how people always blame themselves after a tragic accident. They literally singled out 2 sentences in his email, had he extrapolated they may have very well still extracted only those 2 sentences anyway. The board is 100% responsible for what they did, I am really curious as to why they are so intent to ruin Thema’s career.

    • Falina thanks for that most intelligent insight! People like Paul are not able to really see what’s going on.

  14. There is no good result from this mess.

  15. Interview with Coach Geddert being replayed on I955fm right now!!

  16. I give the Coach a pass here and do not think he is party to plot to remove Thema. However, he was naive to the level of treachery and deceit within the TTGF. He let his guard down by reporting honestly because he could not in his multiple decades in gymnastics imagine that the TTGF would remove Thema who was in Brazil without proper protocol and fly Marisa to Brazil within 24 hours. As an experienced coach/competitor he had adjusted his mind and operational protocol to getting Thema qualified. In his mind, he was already expanding his Olympic legacy by winning Gold with USA to bringing a small nation athlete to possibly medal. He had every professional and economic incentive to see Thema through. After the treachery, knowing the sport he recognized that Thema would not win an appeal based on the timing of her withdrawal. I can imagine this man saying..WTF; I am out of here as I have some personal problems back home.

    Naturally, I do not know the man but I do know that he made some assumptions about the character and professionalism of the TTGF that did not serve Thema. Reading his email to the TTGF, you can feel his relaxed tone and excited, little did he know that a tiger was waiting to ponce.

  17. Everyone knew this all along. The coach never indicated that she cant compete. So why the haste?

  18. May God keep blessssssssong her cause she’s great at what she does best

  19. he said he asked her if she was able to go through with it and she told him yes. so why did he send that report. some how I kept suspecting that coach from day one. when I read his report. he get paid off. trying to pull himself out

  20. And I think he will regret it for the rest of his life

  21. I dont think he was directly involved in any plot to sabotage his athlete. I do believe that he failed to properly serve her in light of all his doubts about the Federation He erred greatly in sending such an email.

  22. Exactly Leslie and the coach was part of it.

  23. Hi can’t answer that, I wish I could. But it was a sinister plot from day zero one

  24. same George from Tamarin FM in Tobago?

  25. Leslie-Ann Boisselle I agree that it stinks to high heavens it really does, but the coach put down the second to last load and it baffles me as to why he would send such a report??? That is my ONLY issue here. He claims to have been aware of a “plot” to remove his athlete, then why file such a report, especially since little injuries are part of the game? he even suggested her withdraw? He stated she ahd no chance of podium? Huh? really???

  26. It’s sad that Thema got cut down from her coach and the board. Trinidad is the loser here. If I was Thema I would get citizenship in another country and compete for them. Trinis don’t appreciate a good thing.

  27. You know why they making excuses for the coach, because they already point all fingers at the crappy board, they shame to admit that the coach provided the first weapon against Thema.

  28. Mervyn like you not reading the comments or what? Steups

  29. Mervyn Skeete coaches make that call a lot, stop it. The Board may be shitty, my point is why the excuses for the coach??

  30. Watch now the TTGF will now turn on Geddert .

  31. I really can’t explain it in any simpler terms…even if the coach says the athlete is unfit…THE TEAM DOCTOR AND THE ATHLETE HAS THE FINAL SAY…Please understand that….no one else…PHEW !!!

  32. Yes why died he now regret sending the email.

  33. hahaha Good Night, The Coach sucks

  34. Well he might be getting one after this fiasco that he started.

  35. WHY DID THE PHYSIO AND DOCTOR NOT be required to file status reports?

  36. I’m still stunned that Trinis defending that awful coach!!! I tell you.

  37. lol the Physio and Doc say she is fine, the coach says she is not, Board screwed up, Coach precipitated such’

  38. Mervyn we are aware of that but surely the coach’s input will be a part of that decision.

  39. I don’t know if I can get through to people who do not really understand the procedure with regard to selection on a National Team OR selection for an individual event.let me put it in caps…THE ONLY PERSON WHO CAN DETERMINE IF AN ATHLETE IS FIT OR UNFIT FOR COMPETITION IS A MEDICAL PERSON….A DOCTOR,.. AND IN THE DOCTOR’S ABSENCE..A PHYSIO….NO ONE ELSE…NO PRESIDENT, NO COACH. .

  40. Whether the coach should have or not can be debated, but who and what normal association would not try to contact a coach? There is such a thing as phones in a room, contacting other officials present like Fuentes to contact him etc.. As a coach if you are accustom to giving honest reports and queries being discussed first before important decisions are made, why should he have altered standard procedure. In any sport performing through injuries, problems with new apparatus etc are the norm, what makes the coach’s report any different. Make no mistake rules, regulations and procedures are at the root of this problem. No excuse, nancy story or any other story can make me believe not even one word Marquez said. Reading some of these comments I am deducing that the coach should have fudged, left out, conveniently forget or flat out lie… God forbid anything were to happen had see participated it would have been a next story. RULES, REGULATIONS and PROCEDURES end of story. If these were followed, without interference from within, well we wouldn’t not be here today.

  41. Mind you half the Trinis miss this eh! Pointing fingers all over the place but not at the real culprit. We are jokey people.

  42. Earl Best

    Thema’s coach talking:

    “(Dick) is a terrific young lady. She is not at fault. She didn’t make any decisions (although) she may have benefitted from some decisions.

    “(But) the ability to run, jump, dance… Thema is a far superior athlete and she showed it at the World Championships.”

    “I regret sending them the ammunition to make the decision that I think they always wanted to make…”

    Nuff said. Sorry, Wired868. Three paragraphs and he’s said all the essential stuff it took you about 20 stories to say.

  43. and since ttgf couldn’t follow protocol, he could backtrack now and give interview playing he love and care about Thema..

  44. Blast everybody except the man who provided the ammunition. Trinis like everybody more than they like themselves.

  45. The coach simply gave them ammunition they needed to rreplace Thema.. knowing fully well ttgf could / would not folow protocol procedures as that would have stopped them… he’s a skunk!

  46. Yep. Send a very negative email talking about injuries and disasters when you know people out for her head. Way to have her back, coach! Way to have her back!

  47. The Coach’s report have me confused as hell If it were merely a sore ankle, why talk about withdrawal? Why say Podium not in sight? Seems like he felt she was not capabale

  48. She had a sore ankle and as he and many other professionals in the gymnastics fraternity at that level all is the athletes have niggling things

  49. Agreed the board did nonsense but Geddert set the wheels in motion. Poor Thema.

  50. So she was injured then Leslie-Ann Boisselle? You believe the coach?

  51. And therein lies my opinion..The Board may have erred, But in all fairness the Coach did the hatchet job for them

  52. Nope to shireen and there is blame enough to go all around Chandani

  53. Chandani Boodoo that one had me confused. Imagine that, he is a nasty piece of work and he has his partners on the TTGF as well.

  54. Ok sweetheart. I know the Board is shit, but the coach is a mountain of shit

  55. So Leslie-Ann Boisselle based on that, it’s safe to say that Geddert was lying?

  56. We walking parallel roads in this ladies and the Twain shall not meet. So I will leave it thereb

  57. So he knew they after her, yet he saing he wanted her to withdraw two weeks before competition???

  58. So if the coach says she was injured obviously the board will not send her, so Geddert gets a free pass??? While we bashing everybody left, right and centre.

  59. but last week was before they were in Rio

  60. If the coach say he tell her to withdraw since last week and she showed no signs of improvement and was a disaster, why the hell the board wouldn’t withdraw her??? For the once chance to get the country to the Olympics?? When they done already against her??? Was he drunk when he wrote the email???

  61. listen eh folks … maybe the law really is an ass but the coach could have said whatever he wanted but it is the board that acted ultra vires and that is what will be tried

  62. Sounding like we listed to two different interviews. But as I said I agree to disagree

  63. The Coach saying he knows they wanted her out, so then why the hell would you give them the ammunition to slaughter a lamb? And now Dick getting shit. Is competition

  64. Cheryl you absolutely missing the point, her coach said she was injured. Can’t you understand that????

  65. Nobody saying the board was right. Ppl trying to say the coach was the first wrong one

  66. Why does he now regret sending the email???

  67. Lord, He regrets sending that? He was planning to leave her there without a coach too. He sent it why? What was his motivation? If he felt NOW that she would have qualified on her worse day, why send a report saying she should withdraw???

  68. the board was supposed to act within the law it is their actions that are at fault here … it is their action that will be tried

  69. Sorry I will have to agree to disagree with you on that. And I am not in a position to say Marissa knew.

  70. think it was the one on the left that he threw her under…could be wrong…

  71. Because the coach said she was not…

  72. Leslie-Ann Boisselle he only said that because he destroyed Thema’s oppournity, he feeling bad.

  73. And when their appointed physio said that she was fine why didn’t they take that as confirmation that she was okay to perform

  74. Chandani Boodoo and Shireen Aziz Kublalsingh… Good luck trying to get anybody to understand your reasoning and logic. I trying whole week.
    I still not understanding what people mean when they say “Marisa knew!”

  75. He said that he regretted sending that

  76. Cheryl, try to understand, The board may have erred, but the coach is to blame

  77. He also said that if they had issues with his report it was incumbent upon them to verify. And yes I read the email. I am not saying that there is no fault to be laid at his feet. But ate you saying that the ttgf acted responsibly

  78. I’m certainly not defending TTGF but Trinis ent even concerned about what he wrote, that started the ball rolling.

  79. If he felt she would have qualified regardless of injury why say he asked her to withdraw????? PUZZLING!

  80. see here … the constitution is the rule of law in this… it was breached …. the medical report evidence… the physiotherapist report evidence…. TTGF actions vaps …. which stands the test of rule of law

  81. Leslie-Ann Boisselle did you read his email? Didn’t you find it odd that he would speak about his student like that?

  82. If you know me, I follow you like a fan! I listened to his interview you posted..yes. he is obviously backtracking. I am not defending the Board, I am asking why would a coach tell a board that he asked the athlete t withdraw if he felt she had no trouble qualifying

  83. Cheryl they read too far between the lines? You accepting that from him? When I started reading the email, I couldn’t believe it was Thema’s coach. He is just trying to cover up his tracks. I hope Thema fired his tail.

  84. I also read in the coach’s email where he said that the TTGF read too far between the lines to achieve what they always meant to do…. was he lying here too

  85. They reported after he made his initial report which he said was incomplete

  86. Yeah, If the Physio and the doctor say she had no injury why the coach reported to the Board that she had??

  87. I’m yet to hear anyone talk about what the wretched coach said in his email, he is the reason for Thema’s ousting!! So Cheryl that means the coach was lying?

  88. He backtracking, he did a disservice to his charge Cheryl, when did that occur? That is the real question???

  89. all I am saying is a medical doctor and a physiotherapist said she was good to go….

  90. And geddert siad he asked her to withdraw due to injury…lol

  91. Yes they are giving the coach a pass because as usual logic is out the door. Listen to the nonsense

  92. Exactly Chandani Boodoo, hear where Cheryl reach! So Geddert says she was injured but the physio says she wasn’t, who lying???

  93. hear nah, why are you all giving the coach a pass? That is the real question

  94. why is the board now trying to discredit their own chosen physio

  95. In his report he should have said tough times but we will make the qualification, instead he said I asked her to withdraw last week!!!

  96. All that could be true, so why say what he said? When did he get that report? That is suspect, if he ahd that why say we going on heart? Steups

  97. There is a medical report from a renowned medical doctor who treated her and said that she was fit …. He has it…. saw it on the TV6 News

  98. Why did he have to say no chance of podium in his report? What the hell does that mean. he is backtracking

  99. Geddert suddenly trying to redeem himself because he didn’t think it would create such a furor.

  100. Trinis don’t look at issues properly, they blaming everyone but the blasted coach.

  101. I’ve been saying that on all the threads, but people can’t seem to see that. Geddert is the major reason why Thema did not get chosen. Who in their right minds will send an injured athlete, he cast doubt on his own student.

  102. He undermined his athelete..plain and simple. Even if the board errred, he created an opportunity he is a real shit hound

    • I agree the coach seems to be the most dangerous person in the plot.. the timing of his DAILY report and his saying she was injured since the week before and he was thinking of pulling her out.. why mention that if you know she was fit.. he collect money, but said enough so that they could accomplish their agenda, fully knowing that they could not adhere to protocol if this coup had to succeed, so he could backtrack afterwards to look clean and playing he like his student… steups ,,JAIL !

  103. Marwuez spoke about the athlete being injured, the TTGF Constitution says under COUNCIL..(o) to elect an Hon.Medical Officer who shall be the advisor to the Federation in matters of medical opinion appertaining to the Federation only. All he mentioned was responsibility and all that razzle dazzle.My question to MARQUEZ is..DO YOU HAVE A. MEDICAL CERTIFICATE VERIFYING THAT THEMA WILLIAMS WAS INJURED…That was the criteria which should have been presented at the news conference….THERE IS NONE and Marquez is not, I repeat NOT a medical person, that apart, the Physio emphatically said Thema was fit to perform.

  104. Agreed Chandani that coach is a fraud.

  105. I cannot fathom the coach’s report! I just cannot, not making any excuses, but damn that report stated she should have pulled out, she was injured etc. Horrible, he has to shoulder blame especially if he knew, as he claimed that they were out to get her…Madness

  106. “I have dealt with countless associations over the years and I have never had to deal with so much drama as I’ve had in this two year period—ever.” Welcome to Trinidad 🙁

  107. I do not know where this road leads for Thema but I know we are where we are at the time we are there at all times because that is where God wants us to be at that time …. I do not know God’s purpose for Thema’s life but I know that He has a purpose for her (part of that purpose may be her poise and graciousness) ….. I know too that Satan manifests himself in many ways and through weak human and I have seen him manifested in this whole debacle ….. I am sure like the phoenix Thema will rise to her truest potential and purpose ….. That said I still want the TTGF gone since yesterday into obscurity and the TTOC to turn down that spot in the Olympics …..

  108. Yuh writing thing to get men more upset.

  109. what yuh think Marissa Dick’s scores were? her best? LOL
    #CakeWalk