Home / Rio 2016 / TTGF: Olympic spot belongs to T&T not Thema or Marisa; disciplinary summit delayed

TTGF: Olympic spot belongs to T&T not Thema or Marisa; disciplinary summit delayed

The Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) will send a representative to the Rio 2016 Olympics Test Event regardless of whether Thema Williams, Marisa Dick or neither of the above is declared to be fit to represent the “Red, Black and White.”

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

As both gifted gymnasts prepare to face the TTGF’s disciplinary committee over revealing photographs on the social media, TTGF general secretary Elicia Peters Charles stressed that, although Williams earned first crack at the final Rio qualifier, the spot belongs to the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC).

Both gymnasts, therefore, are replaceable. And the TTGF can put forward another athlete for April’s Test Event in Rio, even though she did not compete at the Glasgow 2015 World Artistic Games championship.

“I want Trinidad and Tobago to know that it is a TTO spot and not an individual spot,” Peters Charles told Wired868. “You didn’t have to go to the World Games to be able to go to the Test Event. (Also) both Thema and Marisa made the mark required to represent Trinidad and Tobago. No one person made it.”

News that the TTGF is prepared to find a third gymnast at short notice, if necessary, to represent the country, may not appease concerned fans, who are anxious to see the country get the best possible representation at the upcoming Olympics.

And it certainly won’t calm the nerves of the two young gymnasts, who are anxiously awaiting their fate.

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)

However, Peters Charles made it clear that she has not prejudged the matter and the TTGF will go into the disciplinary meeting with an open mind.

The decisive meeting was scheduled for this week but has now been delayed to an undetermined time next week, due to the TTGF’s difficulty in sourcing a lawyer willing to offer legal services free of charge.

“The meeting will be next week,” said Peters Charles. “We wanted to do it this week but we didn’t have a legal representative…

“We don’t have any (budget) that will allow us to pay a lawyer, so we have to ask for pro bono work.”

The disciplinary committee will consist of seven people with just two members from outside the fraternity: TTGF president David Marquez, general secretary Peters Charles, a representative for the registered gymnastics clubs, a representative for the coaching body, one trustee, a legal representative and a mediator.

Despite suggesting the case has not been prejudged, the TTGF general secretary did say that both athletes breached their contracts.

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)

“It was a breach,” the TTGF general secretary told Wired868. “The reason it has gone to the disciplinary committee is because a breach took place.”

Both Williams and Dick signed contracts, after last October’s World Games, which under the heading of “Ambassador of the Sport”, stated that:

“I am a representative of TTGF and must conduct myself in a manner that upholds the name, reputation and goodwill of TTGF… As such, my conduct publicly known and not publicly known must not reflect poorly upon or bring discredit to TTGF, its other athletes, its coaches or its events and programs.

“My conduct extends beyond actions on the field of play, including but not limited to

actions/posting/images disseminated in the public domain.”

Williams’ photograph, which landed her in hot water with the TTGF, was posted on her private Instagram page for barely 24 hours, according to the athlete, before being removed—almost 10 months prior to her pre-Olympics contract.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams performs at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. Williams is in line to be Trinidad and Tobago's first gymnast to perform at an Olympic Games. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams performs at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
Williams is in line to be Trinidad and Tobago’s first gymnast to perform at an Olympic Games.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

However, the TTGF believes the 20 year old was in violation of the clause which reads: “my conduct publicly known and not publicly known…”

Dick’s own photograph was posted on SnapChat just last month.

Williams’ photograph was leaked to the TTGF by “Georgette Heinz” on February 22 while, three days later, “Kamara Heinz” responded by releasing Dick’s topless shot.

Thus far, the public response has largely been supportive of both ladies, although there were grumbles regarding Canada-born Dick’s split loyalties. Former England-born Trinidad and Tobago World Cup player, Shaka Hislop, attempted to address the latter issue in a op-ed for Wired868.

Andreas Stueven, the Trinidad and Tobago Triathlon Federation president, said, in his personal opinion, the TTGF’s response to the topless photographs was overblown.

“I do not think that this is a particularly raunchy or unbecoming picture for my taste,” said Stueven, after the circulation of Williams’ photograph. “Young people—girls and boys—are exploring their sexuality and once it stays within boundaries, I do not see that as raunchy. If you google Sports Illustrated, you will find a lot of pictures and some of them probably ‘raunchier’ than this one.

Photo: USA heptathlete Chantae McMillan is one of dozens of athletes who appeared nude in ESPN's Body Issue Magazine. (Copyright ESPN/Carlos Serrao)
Photo: USA heptathlete Chantae McMillan is one of dozens of athletes who appeared nude in ESPN’s Body Issue Magazine.
(Copyright ESPN/Carlos Serrao)

“Athletes train (and) as a byproduct they have sexy bodies. That applies again to male and female alike. Thema is not the only athlete to pose and show the result of her hard work.

“I know a few others personally and if you again google you will find a lot of celebrity athletes having posed for similar pictures. I do not see this as unbecoming.”

Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis was concerned with the timing of the furore.

“The TTOC is very athlete-centred and athlete-focused and therefore at this point in time,” Lewis told Wired868, last week, “all our Olympic athletes are very focused on preparing for whatever various qualification they have.

“They are at a crucial time with the Olympic Games just months away.

“The timing of the release of such a picture, which I have not seen, is concerning because it distracts both the athlete and the administrators from what should be the focus, which is preparing for an upcoming Test Event which forms the final qualifier for Rio 2016.”

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

It is uncertain whether next week’s disciplinary meeting will have any bearing on the identity of which athlete represents Trinidad and Tobago at April’s Rio Olympics Test Event.

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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227 comments

  1. Y’all wanna hang these girls for some stupid contract that does not clearly state what exactly violates it but I’m sure when the leaders of our country are scene in public for carnival whining and grinding drinking and being drunk and making stupid comments you condone it? TTGF y’all need help! These girls did not commit any crime whatsoever. They have worked very hard and to the knowledge of many they haven’t violated a single thing. You’re saying here that this is how hard work is paid? That this is how you reward these girls? By slapping them in the face for being confident about their bodies in a tasteful manner? Did they act a porn? You even know the color size and shape of their nipples for what they actually look like naked? Trinidad too backward

  2. That is why our athletes leave TnT and represent other countries ..

  3. This is such crapthese girls have trained too hard to be subjected to TTOC idiots

  4. look for another or dont send anyone. Typical youth love exposing themselves just some of them have talent. Nobody standing up for morality anymore.

  5. SMH

    There must have been a better way to deal with this.

  6. We really need to climb out of the dark ages.

  7. in Canada Marisa never competed Elite, she competed in the women National Open but never competed Elite , she didn’t have the skill set and wouldn’t have met the criteria when she was 14/15, it was her coach Mr.Serban who when she was 14 started the process of her getting her citizenship so she could compete for T & T she then went down to compete in T & T at Nationals she was accepted to team. It was about funding and international experience of which she would have more than likely never received in Canada (too many great gymnasts there) and that my dear Trinis is the truth, fast forward …… someone has gone to a great effort to discredit a hard working athlete who has a higher skill set who earned her trip to the test event by achieving the HIGHEST score ever internationally by a T & T gymnast (Thema Williams on the road to Rio 2016) i do believe Marisa is also a victim here , this is just shameful. Well enough should have been left alone. Thema qualified , she has the Elite skill set , but y’know when it the Olympics some people just go Cra-Cra !! ……..sigh……..

  8. If the spot belongs to Trinidad and Tobago, then it’s time for Trinidad and Tobago to speak up.

  9. It also doesn’t belong to the federation either

  10. At this stage the only person/entity at risk of “reflect[ing] poorly upon or bring[ing] discredit to TTGF, its other athletes, its coaches or its events and programs” is the TTGF itself

  11. If Trinidad playing de ass and don’t want them, St.Lucia will gladly take them. Bunch of hypocrites

  12. The wear of the gymnast is as good as being nude.. the different acts, splits. vaults.. shows up their bodies in every way.. they should be wearing long pant then..? the men do…! So what they mean.. that’s the end of her career in that sport.. What are they saying to young ladies.. Hide your bodies or you are doom to be nothing of substance in the future? better young people go back to the land to bring food to the nations and forget work hard at these things that mostly bring them disgrace in the eyes of the people who benefit the most by holding these events anyway..!

  13. we love real shit in trini plz tell me how this is an issue? and is there even a third gymast at this level ? on top of which who leaked the pics and why I smell a internal setup at play to derail the girls tonya harding style

  14. Are we sending our best gymnasts?

  15. I thought you had to qualify for the spot. If the spot ‘belongs ‘ to TTGF then why haven’t we sent someone to every Olympics?

  16. Is it just me or is hypocrisy and irony thiefing a wine in front everyone’s eyes. This Olympic sport like Beach volleyball(female) draws a large percentage of male viewers live n televised not because of the sport but the outfits n bodies that they occupy. So the so called “pic” reveals so little in comparison to competition wear. It’s like the joke where her mother warned her not to pay heed to the dares of the boys at the corner to do somersaults as they only wanted to see her underwear. The jokes on them mom she triumphantly proclaimed, “I took off my underwear before I flipped’.

  17. Picture posted by a jealous Mother of a contender who was not chosen,,,, it is alleged. We now have the best chance at the meet than we ever had and a false pride committee going to deny a country international fame and glory and crush a young hard working lady the opportunity to make her dreams come true. REALLY?

  18. Power hungry people who have someone in mind for that spot.