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Get ready to tumble! Thema sues TTGF officials for destroying her Olympic dreams

Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) president David Marquez, first vice president Akil Wattley, second vice president Ricardo Lue Shue and his wife and assistant treasurer Donna Lue Shue will have to defend their controversial omission of 20 year national gymnast Thema Williams in a local courtroom.

At just after 3pm today, the Tots and Tumblers athlete, who was pulled from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Test event by the TTGF on the eve of her competition, filed her Statement of Case in the Port of Spain High Court.

Williams is represented by attorney Keith Scotland and Martin G Daly SC.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) is flanked by (from left) Tots and Tumblers gymnastics club owner Annette Telfer and attorneys Keith Scotland, Dr Emir Crowne and Resa Ramjohn at a press conference on 27 April 2016 at the Virtus Chambers in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) is flanked by (from left) Tots and Tumblers gymnastics club owner Annette Telfer and attorneys Keith Scotland, Dr Emir Crowne and Resa Ramjohn at a press conference on 27 April 2016 at the Virtus Chambers in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Marquez, Wattley and the Lue Shues are represented by Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC.

The crux of the matter is the gymnastic body’s decision to replace Williams with her alternate, Marisa Dick, on Saturday 16 April, just 24 hours before she was due to compete in Rio.

Dick will create local history next month by being Trinidad and Tobago’s first gymnast to compete at an Olympic Games.

Marquez claimed that the officials interpreted a training report from Williams’ coach, John Geddert, to mean that she was injured. But Geddert and therapist Nicole Fuentes, who was also in Rio, insisted that the TTGF executive overreacted at best or intentionally sabotaged the athlete at worst while a medical certificate allegedly cleared Williams to compete.

The decision to hook Williams was made without consulting the aggrieved gymnast or Geddert and there were conflicting accounts as to how much effort Marquez put into contacting the American coach.

Williams, through her attorneys, have argued bias towards Dick and “conspiracy to injure” the former St Joseph Convent’s student chances of performing at the Olympics by administrators who had been at loggerheads with the Diego Martin-bred athlete for months.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Thema Williams (right) and Marisa Dick pose for a photograph while sightseeing in Rio, after the Olympic Test event on 17 April 2016. (Courtesy Hannifer Dick)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Thema Williams (right) and Marisa Dick pose for a photograph while sightseeing in Rio, after the Olympic Test event on 17 April 2016.
(Courtesy Hannifer Dick)

In February, the TTGF threatened to suspend Williams based on a topless photo of the gymnast—which showed little more than her exposed shoulder—that was circulated by a “concerned parent” named Georgette Heinz, who turned out to be fictitious.

However, a topless image of Dick emerged soon after—from another unverified source—and the gymnastics body lost interest in the case, which remains unresolved today.

Williams’ lawsuit requested a TT$11.3 million pay out, exclusive of legal fees, from Marquez, Wattley and the Lue Shues, which was split into roughly TT$1.3 million for  a Michigan State University scholarship that she passed up to train for the Olympics plus TT$10 million in damages for being denied the chance of participating at the prestigious tournament.

Williams’ attorneys released the following statement:

“On behalf of Thema, legal action is being pursued to redress the deprivation of the valuable opportunity to be an Olympian, the first in the female gymnastics discipline from her country, perpetrated upon an athlete who has been engaged in gymnastics from the age of five.

“Thema was at an optimum age, 20, for her participation in female gymnastics. For Thema the deprivation may amount to the destruction of a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

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)

The matter of Williams versus Marquez, Wattley and the Lue Shues looks set to be Trinidad and Tobago’s biggest sport case since 13 World Cup 2006 footballers went after the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) for unpaid bonuses.

One telling difference is the central character behind the TTFA, then FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, was never sued and did not appear in court, as the Soca Warriors targeted the football body.

In this case, Scotland and Daly aim to ensure that Marquez, Wattley and the Lue Shues will not be able to hide behind the sporting body but must pay the damages themselves.

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)

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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96 comments

  1. Wishing her success and much financial rewards!!!!

  2. Sue their ass.Just imagine putting a foreigner over a much more talented local to represent Trinidad

  3. Girl gut them for every cent. I’m not worried about Marissa Dick,USA is definitely taking this,she doesn’t have the skills they do.

  4. Good for you Thema I am rooting for you.It will be IT WILL BE ALLLRIGHT!!!

  5. Go all the way Thema! Down to the last. ?????

  6. Congratulations to You,You are a very brave and courageous young Woman with intergerity I had which the Offical had done Like you

  7. Well its her right but she should of done it months ago maybe she might of ended up in rio

  8. I find the claim low- this woman is a young woman and the direction of the rest of her life has been altered by the arrogance and ego of the defendants.

  9. I find that the PResident, Vice president, the treasurer and the executive that conspired against her are the ONEs who should have to Pay out of pocket for this!

  10. Take a stand for what is right, Thema I salute you

  11. Since we’re seeing kidnapping taking place in Rio as visitors roll into Brasil for the 2016 Olympics; would it be too wicked to wish the kidnappers would take Mamma Dick, Baby Dick and the Lue Shues because we know for certain nobody in T&T will pay any ransom to get them back?

    • I think you know the answer to that one already. Marisa Dick did whatever she felt was in her power to get to the Olympics. She didn’t harm anyone and she didn’t pick herself either. So I definitely won’t wish harm on her. And I’d definitely hope that you would chip money in if we needed to pay a ransom. Cause I would.

    • Hopefully the court will rule on if an injustice was done by the officials and the let the chips fall where they may after that. 😉

    • Let me quickly disassociate myself with this post. This Person need to put a pic so that people would stop confusing him with me
      I am John Gill from i955fm and people always think that this ass and his totally out of timing posts are mine.
      They are not and whoever the he’ll thus is please put a pic so that the people would see who you are and stop thinking it’s me

    • Lasana,indeed she did not pick herself but she is an adult and very much part of this. I not wishing this on them but I do hope that the courts hold those who have been named accountable because too many times I have heard them say that they answer to no one

      • Well said, Tonya Ayow. Indeed I wish no one ill, but like you say she is very much part of this – for me this is mainly due to her very questionable statements way back before Thema was first officially announced as the athlete who would represent T&T at the Olympic test event (while being interviewed for the “Dick” move) when she seemed to infer she still had a shot at representing T&T at the Olympics even though she clearly did not qualify based on the rules set by the TTGF – her statements show she is not completely innocent of any wrong-doing though she may have not had a major part in it. I cannot be happy about her representing T&T when her spot was so wrongly obtained, however people who would wish violence on anyone…that’s just being inane and ridiculous – and just spreads malice – we need more mercy and less malice in T&T.

    • Folks; let me clarify my mischievous comment on this thread.
      I was actually being facetious, ok.

    • I agree that Marisa was a part of this Tonya in that she seemed happy to benefit from what might have been an unjust act by the TTGF. And she even seemed to have been encouraging the gymnastics federation to act in her favour at some points.
      But no administrator in T&T sporting history has ever been pushed into doing something they didn’t want to do by an athlete. Lol.
      At the end of the day, if a crime was committed, it was by the officials.

  12. I agree hit them for more than six we are behind you 100%

  13. Ah hundred $111,000,000.00,should be the figure the judge should surmise if they don’t settle out of court,but dick doh she not afraid to fall on she heat at the meet knowing the circumstances under which she got there.god be with she .

    • We will have to north ab the whole country to pay that. Cut spending to hospital, schools and security. Keep in mind we are the state. It’s our tax dollars they can’t find it in the treasury it’s our pocket.

  14. In kerwin Dubois voice …….oh bachannal!

  15. Idk but it seems all sports in Trinidad always has a fight down. At the end of the day it’s the athletes that feels it most. Ppl needs to be in for betterment instead of money

  16. Is it worth $14 million? Did Keshorn earn that? Crawfie? ATO?

    • What about all the opportunities that now will not be hers? Potential endorsements? The honour, privilege and doors that could have been opened with history under her belt? For the rest of her life. How do you put a price on that?

      Why should a group of people be able to do as they please without having to answer to ANYBODY? Well, perhaps they will now have to answer a judge…. Sports administrators take note! She may not make the gymnastic history books in Rio, but this piece of judicial history may be far more historic. Watching this space.

    • Ian Gooding what about the cost to live in the US, (housing, food, transportation, clothing, communication), to train under one of the best gymnastics coaches in the world, participate in all those tournaments around the world, medical bills, including her pain and suffering??? The cost is more than TT$14 million. Unlike the other athletes, she wasn’t paid a salary, and unlike them, she was fraudulently pulled from the Olympics. In actually, she should be suing for more, as well as suing the Dick’s, for their active part in her dismal.

    • This is about stealing not earnings , I wouldn’t place the same value.

  17. Wishing you real justice for a terrible injustice .

  18. Good luck !! Hats off to you young lady…

  19. Being nasty comes with a price in this case it’s 11.3 million

  20. You have plenty hope….Lasana….

  21. $11.3 million ways to to say FU….

  22. I am applauding. It is about time to make an example of them. Each one individually.

  23. Way to go Thema! no turning back now, stand firm and demand justice!!!

  24. We could do with some accountability on this island. Hope we start here!

  25. Hoping for the best for Thema. They all should come tumbling down.

  26. 11.3 Mil is what I saw Brian Jordan … and holding them personally liable would be a great step for sports in this country.

  27. $1.3M sounds light. Hope case works out for her and court adds more for her wasted time and emotional distress..

  28. Im genuinely surprised an happy to see only positive supportive comments on this matter 🙂 We need more of this in T&T

  29. Good…. hope justice is swift and severe

  30. I wonder if the Dick camp going to help pay the lawsuit, especially since she’s not going to smell a single medal at the Olympics???

  31. …There is more for them in their positions that you don’t know, that has nothing to do with gymnastics, that is in the pipeline, that’s why it’s so hard for them to leave even though they have no gymnasts, and they know they are NOT wanted and rejected by the real gymnastics community!

  32. Ah told you all TTOC wasn’t going to do anything about the TTGF because of the outside relationship with both Presidents along with ttgf 2nd Vice President…Now let me drop another shocker on you- these people are so arrogant that will lose to Thema, pay $11M and then go back up for election!!!

  33. This same Federation is having elections in August, going about business as normal, not bothered abt their actions…. Hopefully somebody, something, somehow, somewhere will bring them some sense of accountability.

  34. Don’t just bat them for six… Send it to SPACE. GIH DEM!!!

  35. She is in her right….i would have done the same thing. Everything will be in Thema’s favor.

  36. Yuh damn right and yuh have meh full support!!!

  37. A proud stand they had a right to dot the I and cross the T ,they like to much of under hand rackets