Home / Rio 2016 / You want Thema because she’s black! Gymnastics insider wants Marisa for Rio

You want Thema because she’s black! Gymnastics insider wants Marisa for Rio

With less than 24 hours before the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) must officially select its athlete for the Rio Olympics Test Event, a gymnastics insider has admitted that the sporting body is divided between its two star athletes, Thema Williams and Marisa Dick.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick.

And, intriguingly, the source claimed that race is a factor and Dick, who was born in Canada but qualifies to represent Trinidad through her mother, Hannifa, is the gymnast who is being victimised and not the other way around.

“The federation is divided because there are people who want to see a black girl from tots and tumblers go to Rio,” the source, who is very close to the TTGF, told Wired868. “They don’t want the best gymnast to go, they want a black girl to go!”

And, in the strongest indication yet that the local body is considering reversing its initial choice for next month’s Olympic Test Event, the source insisted Dick was the better of the two gymnasts and claimed that Williams failed to fulfil her contract.

When reminded that Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis said Williams already earned her spot, the source insisted that the TTOC could not dictate to the TTGF on the matter.

“Brian Lewis cannot say that (Williams) has to go,” said the gymnastics insider. “He cannot tell the federation who can go to the Olympics…

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis (left) with a delegate at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. (Courtesy TTOC)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis (left) with a delegate at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
(Courtesy TTOC)

“If you look carefully at that same press release (after the TTGF met the TTOC on the selection issue for the Olympics), it said the federation will be monitoring the athletes for consistency and so on. Thema has not performed consistently since.”

The statement is a complete reversal to the initial position taken by the TTGF, which is that the gymnast with the best result at the 2015 Glasgow World Artistic Gymnastics Championship would automatically qualify for the Rio Test Event.

“The WAG gymnast who scores the highest all-around score at the World Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow 2015,” stated the TTGF contract, which was provided to Wired868, “will be the athlete selected by the TTGF Selection Committee to move forward to represent TTO at the Olympic Test Event in Rio, Brazil in April 2016 once her scores allow her selection by FIG to this event.”

Williams finished 59th in Glasgow while Dick was 77th. But the TTGF refused to endorse Williams and the matter went before the TTOC.

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)

“As far as the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee is aware, Thema Williams is the athlete representing Trinidad and Tobago at this qualifier, which is in April,” Lewis told Wired868 on 23 February 2016, “and Marisa Dick is the alternate.”

Wired868 contacted the TTOC president again last night on the issue.

“Based on what transpired at that meeting (in late 2015), the TTOC formed an understanding,” said Lewis, who made calls to verify the authenticity of comments attributed to Wired868’s source, “and our understanding coming out of that meeting, based on what was communicated to the athletes, was that it was Thema Williams (for the Olympic Test Event) with Marisa Dick as the alternate.

“The gymnastics federation is obviously indicating that they received a different legal opinion…”

By afternoon, the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith had assured the gymnastics body that, based on advice from the TTOC, the government had decided not to get involved at this stage.

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 SPORTT)
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 SPORTT)

“NGBs (National Governing Bodies) are independent sporting entities whose autonomy is sacrosanct under the Olympic Charter,” stated the Sport Ministry release, “and general principles of sports law.”

And the TTGF, according to the source, is confident that it can overrule its initial agreement with the athletes due to a second contract called the “Athlete Agreement: Olympic Test Event Rio/Olympic Games 2016” which was signed by both gymnasts in January 2016.

Clause three of the second contract states: “(…) When I accept an invitation to compete in an event as named athlete/alternative for the Olympic Test Event/Olympic Games, I will make every effort to perform to the best of my ability…”

Dick interpreted that clause to mean their pre-Test Event performances would have some bearing on which athlete went on to Rio.

“Only one of us gets to go to the Olympics, so it’s kind of a cutthroat time,” said Dick, in an interview with Edmonton’s CBS News just days after signing the TTGF contract. “But it’s exciting.”

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)

And, with Williams recovering from a knee injury, Dick managed better scores in both FIG events in 2016.

The gymnastics insider agreed with Dick’s assessment and pointed to a report from Williams’ coach, John Geddert, as justification for a possible change in their selected gymnast.

Geddert, who led USA to gold in the artistic gymnastics event at the London 2012 Olympics, was required to provide an update to the TTGF on Williams, who trains at his gym in Michigan.

“The double arabian (manoeuvre) has been consistent and is ready to insert into routines once she recovers from the knee issue,” stated Geddert, in his March report to the TTGF. “(…) Thema’s training attitude has been better than ever before. She remains focused and determined.”

Geddert also referenced the possible impact that the TTGF’s disciplinary proceedings against Williams was having on her preparation.

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)

“Distractions play a major role in interfering with the development and maintenance of confidence,” said Geddert. “The impact of the distractions (of) this month’s drama coupled with the distraction of the Test Event selection procedures fiasco, on top of the prolonged delay in getting any kind of reliable answers from the (TTGF) has certainly worn the patience thin.

“BUT Thema is a fighter…”

Remarkably, the gymnastics insider interpreted Geddert’s report as proof that Williams is supposedly injured, lacking confidence and has a bad attitude.

“I am sure you understand English, so I want you to get a copy of her coach’s March report and tell me what that says to you,” said the source. “What does ‘attitude getting better’ mean to you? Thema has a bad attitude, damaged knee and damaged confidence!”

There was no mention of the topless photos, which caused a stir last month but has since gone cold.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams. Williams said she left this photo up for just one day before removing it in February 2015. It was circulated on Tuesday 24 February 2016 by "Georgette Heinz." (Courtesy Georgette Heinz)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams.
Williams said she left this photo up for just one day before removing it in February 2015.
It was circulated on Tuesday 24 February 2016 by “Georgette Heinz.”
(Courtesy Georgette Heinz)

On February 23, someone who identified themselves as “Georgette Heinz” and the mother of a young gymnast, sent a topless photograph of Williams to the TTGF and demanded action against the athlete.

Within 48 hours, the TTGF executive met and decided upon punishment for the Tots and Tumblers gymnast and former St Joseph’s Convent (Port of Spain) student.

The TTGF pointed to a clause under its signed January 2016 contracts with the girls which stated: “I am a representative of TTFG 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.”

Before the TTGF could reveal its decision, the body was caught out when a topless photograph of Dick was released by a “Kamara Heinz.” It was subsequently suggested that the second poster may have meant to write: “Karma Heinz.”

Photo: Marisa Dick, the Rio alternate for Thema Williams, was also referred to the TTGF's Disciplinary Committee for a topless photo. (Courtesy Kamara Heinz)
Photo: Marisa Dick, the Rio alternate for Thema Williams, was also referred to the TTGF’s Disciplinary Committee for a topless photo.
(Courtesy Kamara Heinz)

On both occasions, the posters had the personal and work email addresses of several TTGF board members, which led to speculation that the photographs were leaked by gymnastics officials who were at odds with each other.

The TTGF executive comprises of: president David Marquez, general secretary Elicia Peters-Charles, first vice president Akil Wattley, second vice president Ricardo Lue Shue, treasurer Susanne Babooram and assistant treasurer Donna Lue Shue, who is the wife of the second vice president.

The TTGF, rather than submit Dick to the same penalty it had decided for Williams, opted to send the matter to its Disciplinary Committee.

It was just as well. Had the TTGF suspended Williams, it would have been illegal under the same Athletes Agreement.

Section 3.2 stated: “No termination or suspension may be imposed, however, except by application of the procedures identified in Article 8 Item 7 of the TTGF Constitution.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation second vice president and former president Ricardo Lue Shue (left) shakes hands with SPORTT Company official Anthony Creed. (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation second vice president and former president Ricardo Lue Shue (left) shakes hands with SPORTT Company official Anthony Creed.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

So, in keeping with its constitution, the TTGF called a disciplinary committee meeting to adjudicate.

The Disciplinary Committee consisted of six Council members and an external mediator, who were: Marquez, Peters-Charles, Babooram, Dale Ali, Mary Charles, Dr Angelus Pilgrim and gymnastics outsider David Abdulah.

They met last Wednesday to adjudicate on what Peters-Charles called “a clear breach” of the girls’ code of conduct.

But Peters-Charles was, apparently, wrong.

Abdulah, the MSJ political leader and trade unionist, said that, at the March 9 meeting, the issue was referred to the TTGF’s council instead.

“There was just one meeting (with the TTGF) and the recommendation was made to refer the matter back to the council,” Abdulah told Wired868. “I have not heard anything since, so it is really for the council to say what they were doing.”

Photo: MSJ political leader David Abdulah said the TTGF Disciplinary Committee was advised to move the matter involving topless photos of Thema Williams and Marisa Dick to its council. (Courtesy Eternal Pantomime)
Photo: MSJ political leader David Abdulah said the TTGF Disciplinary Committee was advised to move the matter involving topless photos of Thema Williams and Marisa Dick to its council.
(Courtesy Eternal Pantomime)

According to the TTGF Constitution, seven days notice are required before a Council meeting can be held.

By happenstance, the TTGF already had a Council meeting scheduled for March 11.

However, on the day of the meeting, Council members were told that the meeting was postponed until March 15. The reason for postponement was that a TTGF official supposedly called the relevant members and deduced there would not been insufficient numbers for a quorum.

Today, the second proposed Council meeting was called off for the same reason.

It means that the TTGF membership would not get to formally consider the merits or demerits of the initial case against Williams and Dick or discuss the body’s selection for the upcoming Olympic Test Event.

Arguably, Marquez’s hand was strengthened today as Smith and Lewis said they would not interfere, so as to avoid possible international sanctions against the body.

Photo: Sport Minister Darryl Smith (centre) meets with TTGF president David Marquez and his executive committee. (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Sport Minister Darryl Smith (centre) meets with TTGF president David Marquez and his executive committee.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

Tomorrow is the decision day. The gymnastics insider revealed her leanings.

“Dick is the better gymnast,” said the source.

In the end, Williams’ historic performance at the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championship might be in vain.

According to the clause on “Dispute Resolution” in the gymnasts’ Olympic agreement: “All disputes arising out of or connected with this agreement are subject to resolution exclusively through the procedures set forth in the TTGF bylaws and/or, if appropriate, through the grievance procedures of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee.”

The TTGF bylaws does not specifically address any complaint from an athlete who feels he or she was unfairly overlooked for a competition. And, if it were to return to the Disciplinary Committee, the constitution does not give a deadline by which time the committee must decide upon a matter or even meet to discuss it.

Under the TTOC’s constitution, any organisation can submit an unresolved issue for consideration, which must be decided upon within 30 days.

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)

Should the TTGF select Dick tomorrow, Williams’ next competition might be in the TTOC’s judicial room rather than on the balance beam.

(Statement from TTOC president Brian Lewis)

I want to reiterate that we stand by our understanding of what took place at the meeting with the TTGF. And that is that Thema Williams is the selected athlete, on the basis of what was publicised. And that Marisa Dick is the alternate.

We respect that the gymnastics federation has a  process that has started and it would be premature for the Olympic Committee to speculate or comment on the outcome of that process. we also respect the right of the TTGF to have sought and received legal advice.

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.

Check Also

President Carmona installs gender-equal TTOC executive committee for 2017-2020

The new Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) committee, led by returning president Brian Lewis, …

166 comments

  1. we want thema because she’s good talk done.

  2. reality check people, I’m a proud Dougla, everything in T&T is about race and politics. The government use it to divide the country and sad to see people fall prey. Just read the newspaper blog how nasty people are to each other. I continue to pray for my blessed country . thema deserve to get the nod

  3. ” Gymnastics insider”? If you can’t name names at this point this just appears to be an attempt to keep this comess alive. The better athlete was chosen, move on.

    • Exactly!!!! Still waiting to see the elusive Georgette Heinz

    • So you are saying that you prefer not to know what was going on behind the scenes and the level of opposition that Thema Williams really faces?
      How can you say you really care about her future if you are not interested to know what she has to deal with?

    • You are not making any sense either just like this comess story. Without a name, this story has no credibility. basic journalism dictates that for a story to be complete it has to have the who, what, why, where, when and how. As far I am concerned this is just an attempt to further stress out our athlete and cause confusion. If Wired wants to be taken seriously as a news site they need to name names, everything else is just conjecture. Themas has been chosen. Move on

    • If you think every story has a named source, you know nothing about journalism. The story quotes the TTOC president Brian Lewis and points out that he called and verified the source.
      Lastly, Wired868 is for people who want to know the inside story and want an in-depth report. If you are not such a person, there are many places you can go for superficial half-baked reports.
      But it is Wired868 that covered this story extensively and properly from beginning to end.

    • Lasana Liburd any idiot who follows legitimate news carriers is aware that not every source is named or can be named, hence the reason cases have arrived in various courts and journalists have been jailed for refusing to name their source in order to protect the source for many reasons. Common sense is missing in some persons thought process.

    • In this case, the “gymnastics insider” didn’t want the rest of the country to know the thinking behind some people within the gymnastics body. And I felt it was important for the people of Trinidad and Tobago to understand the nature of the beast that Thema Williams and other gymnasts have to deal with.

    • Laura, Thema’s mother has just called a press conference for tomorrow to speak out. So we are not the only ones who believe that we shouldn’t pretend like nothing happened here.
      There are underlying issues at work that should be flushed out.

    • Btw, this story was done BEFORE they announced that Thema would go. Not after.

    • Lasana Liburd thank you for shining the lights on the parts of the story that most people will prefer to keep hidden. We rarely acknowledge our race and class issues but they are real and permeate almost every bloody part of our country.

  4. So why de Ass everything now is Race Steuppsss

  5. Marisa Dick is white??!! Ummm no …. anyway why print this bollocks ? People like confusion
    Stay strong Thema

    • So you really don’t care to know what Thema REALLY has to go through to compete for Trinidad and Tobago and the level of animosity against her?
      You’d rather not know and believe everything is fine and dandy? And you are upset that we told you?

    • You said nothing because the story was not corroborated by anyone. Only hearsay and insinuations. Stop the confusion and let Thema focus on what she has to do. She has a tough road ahead and does not need the rehashing and constant bacchanal.

    • And you what she needs better than anyone now don’t you? The story was corroborated by the TTOC president as said in the story. Simple comprehension.
      No need to respond. Wired868 is for readers who want to know what is going on. It isn’t for everyone.

    • You’re right it’s for people who like bacchanal. I’ve known Thema’s family from before she and her sister were even born. And yes I know what she wants, to be left alone and for this ridiculousness to be over.
      And you need to work on your social skills. I find you combative to say the least and you need to learn to digest other people’s views with being ornery.

    • We have communicated with Thema Williams and her mother from the start of this story. Her mother, Helen Adams, has just a called a press conference to speak out. It is for tomorrow.
      I hope you don’t think she likes bacchanal too. Maybe you should advise her to be quiet and stop the comess.
      We have done our best work to make people aware of certain issues and to apply pressure where we think it necessary.
      I can accept that everyone won’t like it. So your feedback is still welcomed.

    • Btw, this story was done BEFORE they announced that Thema would go. Not after.

  6. If you know the people associated with this sport you will know that race plays a great factor……. Imagine in Trinidad we talking about who black and who white……..

  7. They not even naming the source… this sounding like a jealous person… not worth harping over… thema earned her spot fairly and nothing’s gonna change that now

  8. the ridiculous thing is thema placed higher than marissa in the qualifiers but someone wanted marissa whom I think a signature move was named after

  9. i believe thema has finally been confirmed should be in the news later

  10. I thought Thema was selected because she earned more points and earned her place. Please correct me if I’m wrong!!! The race card has no place in this matter, and shouldn’t in a diverse country day all. Grow up people!

  11. I agree. I wish her the best. You’ll see me posting the video if she does well.

  12. nah. there are developments to the moment of the lightning strikes.
    Thema shows up for the big days. between Glasgow and now I will put an * next to anything because she’s coming off an injury. as far as i know it didn’t require surgery, but we can never know how that can affect an athlete.
    and remember there’s only ONE apparatus/event that she’s not banging on that knee eh…so i think we can look at the Rio test event to see how close to game-fit she is.
    and remember….Dick is an alternate—she’s still training tooooo. let’s not forget that. We can’t say hey…Dick is ah shithong either. That’s not fair by any measure.
    let’s just see how it unfolds.

  13. I take it back, Dennis. 🙂 Although, the more videos I watch of Williams the more I feel that Glasgow performance was like lightening. The girl misses most of her landings.

  14. here they go again with the black and white talk,SMH..

  15. The SAGA continues…..
    Can we get something right for a change.
    The back an fort is tireing ????

  16. Didn’t Marisa in fact breach the contract?

  17. That moment when you think that this BS can’t get any lower.

  18. This Dick girl born here just asking but I wonder if she was good enough to make the Canadian team if it would’ve even had this situation#shitty

  19. Erline there were tags to back stories on this so people can get all the issues. It has nothing to do with a comparison of the two athletes. That is absolutely irrelevant.
    There was a selection process. And Thema Williams won. I’m sure you saw what that process was is it was in the story.
    Any chatter who was better on the beam or whatever this year is just chit chat but doesn’t take away from the facts of the matter.

    • You didn’t answer my question, though. It has nothing to do with the back story or the true motives of the TTGF. The criterion was performance at the Glasgow games. Williams performed best so she should get to go to Rio. End of story. I still find the criterion was too limited. I’m asking if this is how it’s usually done in T&T and elsewhere.

    • Especially a sport that has a large subjective element to it like gymnastics. As I said, I thought Dick performed better at the uneven bars, but Williams got the higher score.

    • The top three teams at the Caribbean Cup qualify for the Concacaf Gold Cup in football. And the Caribbean Cup is a two week long tournament.
      You just better bring your A game.
      But there are competitions with more arduous methods for selecting qualifiers.
      There are pluses and minuses to both.
      Maybe the person who can perform best in a one-off tournament scenario isn’t the better gymnast. But maybe she is also the perfect person to star in the high pressure tournament scenario that is the Olympic Games.
      Pick your poison.

    • Football is a bad comparison. How is it done in track for instance? I would think the way to choose for ability and consistency is to have three or four events that each athlete must participate in during the course of the year. The one that performs the best overall is the one you choose.

    • I don’t know if I’m being naive. I genuinely want to know.

    • How can football possibly be a bad comparison? You don’t think football teams peak too?
      Even in calypso, experienced musicians know when it is time to start resting their vocal chords for the big show.

    • Being the better athlete is meaningless by itself. You must be able to execute when it counts.
      Thema executed in Glasgow. You have to decide which athlete you want. But there are many world beaters who know how to deliver when it counts in all sports.
      If you want to use track as an example, Asafa Powell is one of the most gifted athletes there is. But regularly is pipped to medals by less talented competitors.

    • Just to clarify: I’m asking what’s the typical way countries choose Olympic contestants. Do most use a one off contest or a series of contests?

    • There are too many sporting disciplines that I would have to familiarise myself with to answer that conclusively.
      Erline, I assure you that it is not unusual in any sport that I know of. It is down to the country who it wants to tweak its own process based on what it wants.
      All the IOC cares about is you send someone to try out. You have to work out your best process for selecting that person. And what obtains right now is normal.

    • You’re right. It’s different in different countries. Some countries use series of events. Some countries use one event. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/sports/olympics/ways-of-picking-and-choosing-olympic-teams.html?_r=0

    • Erline, the TTGF process was evolved along a path were we didn’t really have a mind that there would be “competition” for places at major events. We are blessed—or cursed, depending on how you look at it—or simply luck—or badlucky—to have a pool of talent all at once.
      obviously this selection process will be reviewed and amended after Rio, as Dick will have major competition from Khazia Hislop for that spot. that is IF T&T remains with only ONE spot in the process.
      The target here, of course, is to qualify a TEAM, but that’s the longterm goal of the TTGF.

    • We have to guard against accepting less than Olympic quality. I’m looking up Hislop on YouTube.

    • Olympians are born. but they also have to be made.
      the TTGF really didn’t put any of these athletes where they are today. Thema has been paying her way to get elite-level training abroad, and Dick and Hislop have both evolved outside the T&T postal codes…so the real truth in the matter is the the TTGF decisions have really just been to rubber-stamp these athletes on their way to Olympic and World Championship success.
      Which is what scares me. Why the fightdown? Instead of celebrating our TWO Rio-bound athletes, here we are picking sides. sad.

    • Well my intention is not to fight down. It’s just to be realistic, especially since Wiliams is 20 and Dick is 18. Past the peak point for gymnasts. The most we could probably hope from them is to learn from their experiences for the benefit of younger gymnasts.

    • As to the other stuff, race should be irrelevant but it isn’t unfortunately. Really low of that TTGF official to try to play the counter-race card to protect themselves against their own possible racial biases.

    • honestly….i’m not 100% sure if this is about race. Thema is 20…WE…in the general public might have now seen her…but I’m thinking she been black for each of those 20 years and that the people in the TTGF would have picked up on that fact somewhere along the line.
      Marisa Dick ain’t “white” either. and neither is Hislop.
      so i personally believe there’s more to this that hasn’t been ventilated in the mudslinging that’s been going on.

    • Dennis Allen OK. I was wondering if it was another type of bias then. They believe Dick is better because she was born and raised in North America.

    • nothing in the TTGF communiqués have led me to that conclusion.

    • Interesting. Then it’s completely specific to Williams.

    • Dennis Allen Wait though. Why play the reverse race card? My observation is that people do that to hide their own racial biases.

    • Dennis Allen There’s another possibility I’ve considered. They may genuinely feel Dick is the better gymnast.

    • like i said…i don’t completely buy the race/colour argument.
      I don’t see it.
      IMO, there has to be something else at work here. some other less obvious link to the TTGF and Dick’s camp or some other unreported issue(s) between Thema’s camp and the TTGF.
      I’m saying that based on the brief period after the photos surfaced when the TTGF flirted with naming Hislop as the Rio representative for team TTO before it became known that she might be carrying/recovering from a serious injury

    • Erline i would say most NF’s in sports use a single event to choose Athletes for their National Team, some have a performance clause in their regulations, but those usually get sued a lot and loose, so tendency I’d say is falling. To then make it to the Olympics there is a mixture of individual performance (eg a gold medal at the Panam Games in 2015 will get you a slot in Rio automatically) and Ranking list which usually runs the 15-18 Months before the Olympics, but generally it varies a lot especially the details as in the different sports a fair procedure varies that keeps in mind the best athletes in the world (which may all come from very few countries) on one side and the number of countries the sport wants to be present (casually referred to as flags at the venue) on the other, cause more countries means more recognition… the qualification manual for rio for all sports is i think over 70pages long….

  20. Everything in this country ends up in the same place. There is always an undertone of we vs them, “black vs white” etc. We are so small minded sometimes, scratch that, most of the time. And we smart for so we could dredge up stats and incidents to prove why one better than the other. In the end one’s skin colour should never matter when it comes to representing Trinidad and Tobago. We are all from here, once you have a birth certificate from TT this is your place baby! From the onset of this shameful incident I picked up the “black vs white vibe” and I knew where it would end. This is so sad. I hope that Ms Williams goes to the event, since it was agreed that the person scoring higher at the 2015 Glasgow World Artistic Gymnastics Championship would go. And I hope that our representative athletes for these and similar events would be chosen at our National championship rather than in a championship away from our shores. Come her and compete save your best for TT and then the world will beckon.

  21. I think there may be a case to be made that Williams is inconsistent. In this, a more recent performance, she misses every major landing. The last was the worst. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCf6_8Fldn0

    • but didn’t the article state that she suffered from a knee injury which naturally affected her subsequent performances? So do we discard our athletes and the performances that would have led to their qualification prior in the first place. Clearly, like in any other serious country, we give them time to recover and that’s why the Coach talked about training and motivation and Thema being “a fighter”. Steups!

    • Listen, we talking about the Olympics here. High stakes. The test is next month. You choose the most ready athlete.

    • The flip side is that even with the falls I’m not sure Marisa beat her by much. Sport is about peaking at the right time though.
      If the event is in April, then that is when you want to peak. Her coach deserves the benefit of the doubt. He is a gold medal winning coach and he got Thema sharp for the last World Championships.

    • Not that I’m saying you don’t have a point eh Erline. It is fact that, for 2016, Marisa has shown better form. Just that there is context too.

    • Yeah. The bottomline is that Williams met the qualifying criterion. What I don’t understand is why they would make the choice based on one championship. Shouldn’t it be performance over a set period of time? Sometimes one thing can go wrong at an event – a fall – and it affects your overall score. Perhaps you can explain Lasana as someone who knows more about the sports world than I do.

    • Every sporting body has its cut off qualifying period that is supposed to leave the athletes time to prepare properly for the event.
      It is normal that you use an event to decide it. We qualified in November 2015 for a June 2016 World Cup football event.
      Maybe Bahrain was better than us by then. Who knows.
      Best case scenario is that you have the qualifying competition as close to the actual tournament as possible.
      I would have had no problem if they said they would use average score for three tournaments leading up to February.
      Depends on how long a gymnastics coach says is needed to prepare for a tournament. If he needs two months then be sure to end qualifiers so he has two months to work with athlete.
      So you are comparing Thema and Marisa now but she might be experimenting and trying things in order to be ready in April and not right now.
      In any case, whatever criteria is created must be adhered to. And it is totally fair and just in my mind to take Thema now. Anything else would be wrong.

  22. Hmmmm and perhaps the mysterious “source” also has their own racial leanings towards Dick?! Oh well Thema is Rio-bound. Hope the focus can be on training and motivating the athlete now!

  23. This is total idiocy. How do you justify breaking the rules to send the 2nd placed and second ranked person to represent the country, and make the top ranked gymnast the alternate ?

  24. don’t bring that black shit talk into this. The best is actually representing us

  25. What a load of crap. Time to put this issue to bed. Thema goes. Dick stays. Punto final.

  26. thought this was a about behavior, since when it’s about who’s better? why is it a question now who should go, when the issue was never based on performance

  27. yeah but marissa is in violation of the same so called code of conduct as thema !!! in fact her breasts are partially seen whereas thema’s is not seen a tall so what is the justification thems too black? where is womantra ? they not marching about the injustuce being meted out to thema and to a lesser extent marissa ?

  28. And the dispute about the topless photos is an embarrassing waste of time, considering America’s top athletes do this every year. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/prince-fielder-gets-naked-for-espn-the-magazine-s–body-issue—photos-161856049.html

  29. It would have helped to include in the article a side by side comparison of the women’s achievements. In a box or something. Medals earned. Competitions participated in etc.

  30. Uneven bars. I personally thought Dick was better, but Williams got the higher score. I find at 19, after doing this so many years, Williams should be sticking the landing. Come nah. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEeS8PxGfO0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-3tzMKknMA

  31. OK. Here are both of them on the balance beam at the same event. Dick performed a little bit better https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eawpR_Vknn8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtlA6Yh-c6s

  32. I have a number of criticisms of this article. I felt it did not give me enough information to form an objective opinion about this issue. Seems the focus was to inflame passions around race. The TTGF should have been asked to give an on the record response to the race allegations and the TTOC and the Minister should have been asked to respond as well. Also an outside party (even the reporter himself) should have given an assessment of both women’s talent. I had to go search up video myself. Dick does seem like the weaker talent to me. Here are her and Williams performing the same exercise at the same event. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZd7PBsMWJk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvR_ry0Fz7E

    • You misunderstand the entire issue and what this matter is about. It has nothing to do with anyone’s subjective idea of who is better.
      You want me to ask the Sport Minister or TTOC president if he thinks Thema is going based on race when there is a clear selection process? You cannot be serious.
      And it is in the article that I did speak to the TTGF official. For the past three weeks I have regularly spoken to them as much as they wish to be spoken to or quoted.
      You’re entitled to your opinions. But I think you are way off base and don’t really grasp what this story is about.