Home / Rio 2016 / TTOC: Let athletes focus! Gymnastics body tarries as Thema and Marisa wait

TTOC: Let athletes focus! Gymnastics body tarries as Thema and Marisa wait

Remarkably, 17 days after the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) balked at a topless photo of national gymnast Thema Williams and exactly two weeks after a similar shot of her teammate, Marisa Dick, was also leaked, the local sporting body still has not made a decision about the fate of its two star athletes.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams. (Courtesy Heritage Radio)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams.
(Courtesy Heritage Radio)

Both photographs were emailed to the TTGF and the media by fictitious persons: Williams’ photo was sent by “Georgette Heinz” while “Kamara Heinz” sent Dick’s.

The 20 year old Williams, who is due to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the Rio 2016 Olympic Test Event on April 22, confirmed today that she has still not heard from the TTGF.

And TTGF general secretary Elicia Peters-Charles confirmed that the body, which promised a decision this week after two postponements, still has not adjudicated.

The possible ramifications of the declared “breach” of the sporting body’s code of conduct includes—in the worst case scenario, according to the TTGF—the chance that one or both athletes can be suspended from international duty.

Dick, who is 18, is Williams’ alternate for the Olympic Test Event and will represent Trinidad and Tobago if the latter gymnast is ruled out.

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)

Two weeks ago, Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis said he considered the matter to be an unfortunate distraction from the Olympic preparations of both the athletes and the administrators.

“The gymnastics federation has to have their process and of course the TTOC has to allow that process to take place,” Lewis told Wired868. “However, it is important for the gymnastics federation to appreciate that in this crucial phase along the process of Olympic qualification, the athletes need to be able to focus on their preparation.”

Thus far, the TTGF has not requested assistance from the TTOC in adjudicating the matter.

Last year, the gymnastics body met the TTOC executive for guidance regarding issues related to its selection process for the Olympics. The TTFG initially told its two gymnasts that the better performer at the Glasgow 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championship would advance to the Rio Test Event.

Williams finished 55th while Dick placed 79th. However, the TTGF subsequently refused to announce that the former gymnast had qualified and Lewis met the body on the matter.

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)

“The Olympic Committee gave its view which was that the information communicated to the athletes was very clear,” said Lewis, “and the athlete selection (of Thema Williams) ought to be confirmed.

“And, to be fair to them, it was.”

On this occasion, the TTGF’s executive members seem determined to make their own minds up. Lewis hopes that the TTGF, which is headed by president David Marquez, act quickly for the sake of their gymnasts’ mental well-being.

“Good governance also means,” said Lewis, “that you don’t allow process to overcomplicate matters that aren’t that complicated.”

Peters-Charles declined comment on the TTGF’s delay in ruling on the perceived breach by Williams and Dick and suggested that all inquiries should be referred to Marquez.

Photo: COPOS Credit Union manager and Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) president David Marquez (left) makes a presentation to GECCU president Clarence Harry. (Copyright GECCU)
Photo: COPOS Credit Union manager and Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) president David Marquez (left) makes a presentation to GECCU president Clarence Harry.
(Copyright GECCU)

Marquez, who is the general manager of the COPOS Credit Union, did not respond to  calls or a message from Wired868.

Once more, Sport Minister Darryl Smith did not respond to requests for comment on the ongoing issue.

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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12 comments

  1. Utter nonsense. Why do we put up with this? It’s the same with the WICB! Playing with people’s lives and their careers….just because they can. We have to keep up the pressure for s speedy and sensible resolution.

  2. Fire that useless, disrespectful, uncaring and down right wicked organization from office!! They are not for the athletes well being period!

  3. Gymnastics is a sport of favouritism at every level.

  4. In T&T, corruption shows its ugly head everywhere. I attribute the pervasiveness of T&T corruption to the high occurrence of incompetent leadership, autocratic management, nepotism, cronyism, racism and greed. This is particular situation is deplorable. Shame on the TTGF to have our T&T gymnasts in limbo on such a trivial matter. We are a laughing stock of the sporting world.

  5. Thing is the TTOC doesn’t have that power. And since the TTGF hasn’t changed its chosen gymnast then I don’t know if the TTOC can interfere.
    Until the TTGF actually makes a decision, I’m not sure if anyone can intervene.

    • I understand all that but if I were the head of the TTOC guess what…. case close. Waiting around and pussy-footing around on this matter is weak leadership. Brian should contact the World Olympics Committe for guidance if he is seriously concerned and not sure what to do. This is a clear case of favoritism in the selection process and as such goes against the spirit of the Olympic Games.

  6. I think this has dragged on 2 weeks too long. Waiting for Darryl Smith or Brian Lewis to give them an ultimatum.

    • Although I don’t think either body can step in until a decision is made.
      I don’t know if that is why this is dragging on like this.
      The action only starts depending on the decision.

    • Well what I meant was they should force them to make a decision. In other words progress the issue because it is all their making. They were the ones who decided this warranted some kind of action so I think the TTOC should ensure that the foot dragging stops one way or another. After all the athletes need to focus and time is literally running out.

    • It is hard to believe that the constitution of the TTGF doesn’t have a deadline for how long the board can go without addressing something sent to the disciplinary committee.
      I know in football there are strict rules about interference and the TTOC and Sport Ministry would have been powerless. Because trying to force them one way or the other could result in suspension of the entire body.
      But then there would have been avenues for the athletes themselves to seek redress by approaching the gymnastics governing body.
      Maybe what the TTOC or Sport Ministry can do is have lawyers go through the TTGF’s constitution.
      It is hard to tell if the Sport Minister even cares though.

  7. The Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) needs to intervene immediately. No more procrastination should be tolerated! This is utter foolishness. Marisa Dick and Thema Williams have to be at their utmost to be medal contenders. Further delay deteriorates their chances. Clearly, the pungent odor of pure favoritism lurks in the air. I believe unequivocally that the decision makers of TTGF favored Marisa Dick over Thema Williams and were disappointed when Thema Williams out-performed Marisa. Hence they chose not to honor their agreed upon selection process with TTOC. Brian Lewis needs to shut down the TTGF and make the call as agreed upon sending both gymnasts to Brazil where Marisa is the backup. Case closed.