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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. If she was convicted of fraud or smoking a plant like substance and did time, the organisers would still allow her to compete. But this is Trinidad and Tobago where we can get on bad in public on carnival but put on this pseudo Victorian puritanical face when it suits us.

  2. Ttgf I guarantee you the us and Canada respectively will scoop these two girls soo quick train them like elites and then Canada and the Us get two Olympic gold medalists !!!!!! Another kerron clement in the making

  3. So the federation would rather send a technically 3rd ranked gymnast to represent this country to prove what exactly? Is this issue really worth sabotaging these athletes and the country’s chances? I hope this is a question the federation is prepared to answer to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

  4. Say what now…a next gymnast! Who? When? Why? Where? #Papayo #WeReach

  5. Where is good sense….this is how we encourage young people to to achieve and be all they can be….the Young lady have worked long and hard for this golden opportunity , are you going to deny her and strip her spirit from her…..Shame on you for not handling the matter with due consideration…… Shame on you for breaking the spirit of a young dedicated athlete….. The damage (to the girl) can be much deeper than we all can imagine ….

  6. John Gill, did you say on the radio that the photographs of the gymnasts were sent to the media by the TTGF secretary?
    So you are saying that you can prove either “Georgette Heinz”, “Kamara Heinz” or “Melissa Grant” are TTGF members?
    That’s a helluva claim.

  7. TTOC and TTGF is not Trinidad and Tobago as well its the people that is Trinidad and Tobago.

  8. So Trinidad and Tobago gets two talented world class gymnasts who have sacrificed to represent their country and we decide to sabotage both of them when they both could have chosen to represent other countries

  9. That was the intention of this commitee from day one, to put who THEY wanted all along..smh.. Allyuh too nasty

  10. Trinidad to back ward and like bachannal

  11. Smh all the board had to do was have a meeting discuss the issues tell her hey its a brand we wanna for our country no nudes plz shake hands and back at it Olympic coming work hard Thema we want medals

  12. Just when you thought the WICB was the most autocratic, archaic and downright duncey sports administration body in the region, along comes this collection of misguided souls. What an unnecessary circus.

  13. The spot belongs to T and T, not to TTOC. The public outpouring of support for the his young lady should settle the matter

  14. They are nothing but a bunch of shit heads.idiots squared you get more idots from this equation

  15. Who are these “Heinz” people that “leaked” the photos and what do they have to gain by doing so.? Being represented in gymnastics on a global scale like the Olympics could be a defining moment for TnT (sports) … if we would only allow ourselves to see the bigger picture.

  16. You know what, since the spot belongs to TTGF they could send Dwayn Bravo. He is a master tumbler and aerial performer. Seen him do it in cricket.( Sarcastically speaking)

  17. The sport of gymnastic is a sport that reveals a woman body almost like no other the level of hypocrisy this situation reaks of is deafening circumstances like this shows how blinded people had become both spiritually and naturally.

  18. TTGF is only for one type of people in T&T. That federation has a hidden agenda .

  19. I never see nonsense as this…they need to change that administration… The TTOC and Minister of Sport need to the intervene

  20. Who they gonna send? My 4 year old niece? She can’t do the Dick move

  21. Plz stop the nonsense, go on ESPN to see some of these athlete model their athletic bodies, wonder what the uproar, our goal (pun intended)is for our country to get a medal in this event gold preferably….

  22. Disciplinary Committee is optional not mandatory without a clear mandate outside of competitions. This Board digging a massive HOLE for themselves..leads you to ask why presumed sensible folks act so??

    Unfortunately, if the Board acts to the detriment of one or both athletes, the athletes will have little recourse as the TTGF is likely without assets and Directors and Officers Insurance.

    Below link to TTGF Constitution:

    http://www.ttsportslink.com/gymnastics/downloads/ttgf_constitution_revised_2013.pdf

    7. THE DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE:

    INFRINGEMENTS BY MEMBERS
    The Disciplinary Committee shall deal with and report and recommend to Council on all matters relating
    to the discipline of the membership of the Federation as relates to the standards of conduct and ethics,
    and the compliance with the rules and regulations applicable to the membership. All matters of discipline
    shall be conducted with due regard to the general principles of fairness and the rules of natural justice.

    COMPETITION DISPUTES
    1. The Disciplinary Committee shall hear and determine all protests of Gymnasts or athletes, and clubs
    against alleged and misinterpretation of the rules of the Federation governing any particular
    competition or championship or event. Any such protest shall be lodged orally at the time of the
    event with the Head Judge or Official and confirmed in writing to the Disciplinary Committee within
    five (5) days of the event.
    2. Such protest shall be heard within twenty-one (21) days after the same shall have been lodged.
    Seven (7) clear days notice in writing must be given to the principal persons interested. After a
    protest has been decided by the Disciplinary Committee, it shall within five (5) days thereafter give
    written notification of the decision of all parties concerned.
    3. If no decision is reached by the Disciplinary Committee within twenty-one (21) days after a matter is
    referred to it or if a party is aggrieved at the decision of the Disciplinary Committee, an appeal may
    be made to the Council of the Federation which shall hear the appeal and have power to call upon
    all parties concerned to attend and testify before it. The Disciplinary Committee shall have power to
    recommend to the Council the manner in which any gymnast or club found by the Disciplinary
    Committee to be guilty of an infringement of the rules of The Federation may be punished but the
    final decision in this behalf shall be taken by the Council under the power in that behalf herein
    contained.
    4. No person undergoing a sentence of suspension or disqualification may participate in any TTGF
    sanctioned event (to include competitions, meetings and galas)

  23. Can’t believe this crap reach this far. And all this from a complaint by a Heinz person who’s picture we can’t see. The test event is 2 months away. Time for some ministry or TTOC official to call up these people and rinse out their ears. I think we’ve put up with this crap long enough. The TTGF looking for a “free” lawyer who would take their side before they could make a decision. Because they have no money to pay a “yes” man. Can’t even laugh at the irony.

  24. When will this country take there heads out of the sand?? Trinidad oh lord. Let’s move forward and stop creating problems when there is nun. What have those girls done wrong? I have seen bigger sports personalities in more revealing pics and we all approve of them. Why are we fighting down our own?? Why??? That energy we have to do that use it to get funding and all the necessary training and things we need to better the sport of gymnastics. I’m so fed of these people who call themselves administrators of sport. Y’all killing sports.

  25. This is all so amusing when for 2 days in every year, women practically go naked all in the name of culture. All you people are a bunch of hypocrites. Nothing wrong with Carnival but outside of those two days all else in unacceptable.

  26. So advocate for change if you feel you should… but don’t make it seem like the local body is unique in its approach…this is a worldwide fact that associations own the space regardless of who qualified… smh… discuss the issues .. protest the real issues..but don’t use opinion as fact.

  27. The quote is ” Rio2016.com is not an absolute authority on qualification for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which is an ongoing process. Final places will only be confirmed in July 2016 (for the Olympic Games) and August 2016 (for the Paralympic Games). The qualification systems are defined by each sport’s respective International Federation and the International Olympic Committee or International Paralympic Committee, and are subject to change. When an athlete or team wins a quota place for their nation, the final decision on whether this ‘slot’ is used and which athletes are sent is taken by the respective National Olympic Committee or National Paralympic Committee (NOC or NPC). Even when athletes win a ‘nominal’ place for themselves, NOCs/NPCs may have to decide who to send if the number of qualified athletes from one country exceeds the quota.

  28. where is the TTOC in all of this? this cannot be how a sporting organisation is managed. it brings the sport and the athletes (who are touted as being central to sport development) into disrepute because of two supposedly anonymous emails.

  29. I am calling on Min of Sports Mr. Smith to intervene on the girls behalf. This is nothing short of ridiculous what these young ladies, are being forced to go through. They have worked for their spot on the Olympic team, as a matter of fact this is our best chance ever in the history of our Gymnastics. I don’t know who is the the moron that believe that the spot belongs to T&T and not the athletes that competed amassing their points , for their right to compete in Rio. What they should be investigating is who released the pics and why? What would they gain by trying to assassinate the characters of these young ladies.

  30. I wish they both represent other countries and get medals while these fools continue to haggle over nothing….bunch of imps lmao.

  31. Good will always prevail over evil….keep your head up Thema. …you have our support always?

  32. You better get a lawyer or stop speaking.

  33. This society of yours is so hypocritical. Are you saying now that it is not acceptable for a woman to expose her anatomy for public consumption? But I recalled only recently that that Theresa Ho got close to a million dollars from Lendl Simmons and don’t forget Anya Ayoung Chee, who won your prestigious Project Runway even though she was not only naked on social media but was also performing one of the most sordid sex acts for public consumption!

  34. The long and short of this matter is they do not want the young lady some one is calling the shot behind the scenes

  35. If the other gymnast were better they would’ve been qualified to go Rio, disciplinary board.

    • neither has qualified yet to go RIO

    • 3 hours ago Brian Smith castigated the double standards. 2 hours ago Kim Possible castigated the double standards and 1 hour ago yours truly castigated the double standards but you appeared on every thread like a Spanish station with your inanity except the former, why is that Nigel Tyrell-Reid? That’s bcause you’re one of those hypocrites he’s speaking about!

    • I am lost to what you are speaking about but ok. All I said is neither has yet qualified to go RIO.

    • ” The qualification systems are defined by each sport’s respective International Federation and the International Olympic Committee or International Paralympic Committee, and are subject to change. When an athlete or team wins a quota place for their nation, the final decision on whether this ‘slot’ is used and which athletes are sent is taken by the respective National Olympic Committee or National Paralympic Committee (NOC or NPC). Even when athletes win a ‘nominal’ place for themselves, NOCs/NPCs may have to decide who to send if the number of qualified athletes from one country exceeds the quota.”

      Just for people’s Info.

  36. Trying to unravel the logic of that statement. Isn’t there a trial/ national championship to determine the selection?

  37. This is the most bullshit I have ever heard, honestly – THE MOST.

  38. Sweet T&T forever moving backwards, never forward. #FeelingEmbarassed

  39. Hope the Government and the TTOC take a hard look at what’s going on with TTGF before funding any representative to the Summer Olympics. We need to be represented by the best gymnast not by TTGF favorite daughter.

  40. Something made into a scandal. So sad. This is a sad beginning to 2016 for T&T. These women have potential to make it great.

  41. Wtf if you’ll don’t want to send Thema say so now and stop holding the facking girl hostage to the last minute so No one else could grab her example Canada… that is selfish cowardly spineless playing God with the girl’s talent and future… release the facking girl stewpz… I real don’t have patience with all this bullshyte Anika n Adelagun…