Home / Rio 2016 / Gymnastics Federation axes Thema on eve of Rio event; TTGF flies in Marisa Dick

Gymnastics Federation axes Thema on eve of Rio event; TTGF flies in Marisa Dick

Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams’ dream of representing her country are now in the hands of her attorneys, after the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) removed her as the country’s athlete for the 2016 Rio Olympics Test event with just hours to go.

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 TTGF decision, which was revealed via a press statement, was allegedly taken as a result of  the 20-year-old Williams’ supposedly substandard performances in training.

Marisa Dick, the TTGF’s alternative, will fly in to Rio to take her place. TTGF second vice-president Ricardo Lue Shue, who is also a former president of the local body, will also travel to Brazil to act as Dick’s coach.

Williams, who is represented by attorney Keith Scotland and also receives legal advice from Emir Crowne, has until this evening to try to overturn the TTGF’s decision.

Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis told Wired868 that he was informed of the TTGF’s decision via an email, which he forwarded to the sporting body’s attorney.

However, he is unsure as to what—if anything—the TTOC can do now. Lewis said the matter appears to be between the TTGF and its global governing body, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). The TTOC will not comment further without legal advice.

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)

“I have received information but, to be very candid, I am not commenting,” Lewis told Wired868. “I am making no statement until I am properly legally advised. From what I am seeing, it is between the FIG and the TTGF…

“When deemed appropriate by legal counsel, the TTOC will make a statement.”

So far, calls to TTGF president David Marquez and general secretary Elicia Peters Charles have gone unanswered.

The TTGF decision is likely to be seen by many as a late twist in a battle between Williams and the board, which arguably started on the day that she qualified for the Olympics Test Event.

Williams and Dick both participated at last year’s Glasgow World Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) Championships and, according to their pre-tournament contracts, the better gymnast at the event would go to Rio.

Williams placed 59th overall—a record for a Trinidad and Tobago gymnast—while Dick placed 77th out of 192 participants.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams performs a handstand at John Geddert's Twistars Gymnastics Club in Michigan. (Courtesy Thema Williams)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams performs a handstand at John Geddert’s Twistars Gymnastics Club in Michigan.
(Courtesy Thema Williams)

But Williams’ triumph was quickly soured as the TTGF inexplicably failed to announce her as their Olympic athlete. In the end, it took an intervention from the TTOC before the gymnastics body  vouched for the former Tots and Tumblers athlete and St Joseph’s Convent (Port of Spain) student.

However, there was a caveat as the local gymnastics body gave Williams and Dick pre-Olympic contracts, which introduced a good behaviour clause and suggested that the former could be replaced for poor performance leading up the competition.

The TTGF tried to use the behavioural clause first, as a topless photo of Williams was released by a mysterious “Kamara Heinz” on February 23 and the local body promptly sent her to the disciplinary committee for action.

Scotland subsequently said his investigations suggestions that Kamara Heinz did not exist.

“As part of our due diligence, your first port of call must be to identify your complainant, because what triggered all of this was an email from this concerned parent,” said Scotland. “We checked with every single (gymnastics) club in Trinidad and Tobago and there was no ‘Georgette Heinz’. We then looked at the white pages. There was no one…

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation second vice president and former president Ricardo Lue Shue (left) shakes hands with SPORTT Company official Anthony Creed. Lue Shue will act as Marisa Dick's coach in Brazil. (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.
Lue Shue will act as Marisa Dick’s coach in Brazil.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

“We checked the electoral list and the EBC database. (And still nothing).

“We checked the email address. And what we do know (is the email address) was assigned to someone in Arizona.

“When we reached Arizona, we stopped there. We didn’t want to go any further lest we ended up in Calgary…”

Williams’ coach, John Geddert, was incredulous: “In today’s world of national team athletes posing full nudity in major publications, was this photo of an exposed shoulder seriously considered “pornography?”

If the photograph was an attempt to snatch Williams’ Olympics Test berth, it backfired as another anonymous poster fired back by leaking a topless shot of Dick.

Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) political leader and trade unionist, David Abdulah, who the TTGF brought in to serve as a mediator, hinted that Williams had been improperly sent to the disciplinary committee in the first place.

Photo: Well known Trinidad and Tobago personalities Nikki Crosby, Fay-Ann Lyons Alvarez, Penelope Spencer, Maylee Attin-Johnson, DJ Dani, Crystal Cunningham and Sophie KMW pose topless in support of Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams. (Copyright Gary Jordan)
Photo: Well known Trinidad and Tobago personalities Nikki Crosby, Fay-Ann Lyons Alvarez, Penelope Spencer, Maylee Attin-Johnson, DJ Dani, Crystal Cunningham and Sophie KMW pose topless in support of Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams.
(Copyright Gary Jordan)

“There was just one disciplinary 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.”

On 15 March 2016, just one day before the deadline to name an athlete for the Rio event, the TTGF finally endorsed Williams.

“Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation has officially confirmed Ms Thema Williams (as per the press release of November 2015),” stated the TTGF release, “the FIG Elite Gymnast to participate and represent Trinidad and Tobago at the Aquece Final Gymnastics Qualifier which takes place 13 to 18 April 2016.”

However, the TTGF still insisted that it had the option to remove Williams if there was an issue regarding her fitness.

“In accordance with the athlete agreement, both gymnasts must submit a medical report/clearance to compete, in the weeks leading up to the Test Event—to ensure their continued fitness,” stated the TTGF, on March 15. “In his 2016 January to March monthly reports, Williams’ coach John Geddert advised the Federation that the young gymnast has not yet been able to train landings because of a knee injury.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago international gymnast Thema Williams. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago international gymnast Thema Williams.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

This situation will be monitored closely to ensure that Thema will be competition ready for her Test Event.

“The TTGF congratulates Thema Williams and wishes her continued success.”

Williams landed in Brazil earlier this week looking forward to fulfilling her dream of wearing red, black and white at the Olympic Games.

Yesterday, Williams made one post on her Twitter page: “Who Jah bless, no man curse.”

And, on a black backdrop, the words “Jah put me here” were printed in bold white letters.

God giveth. But, for reasons that remain unclear, the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation took it away.

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)

The Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation comprises of president David Marquez, general secretary Elicia Peters-Charles, first vice president Akil Wattley, second vice president, Ricardo Lue Shue—who was president of the body from 2008 to 2015 and will serve as Dick’s coach in Brazil—treasurer Susanne Babooram and Lue Shue’s wife, Donna Lue Shue, who serves as assistant treasurer.

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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302 comments

  1. What’s going on! This affair is so smelly .Will someone come clean and lay the facts bare.Another sporting conspiracy.Oh the games people play now. The mess keeps hitting the fan.Everybody in T&T has an axe to GRIND.They’ll grind sports to powder..*+

  2. If Marisa is really as good as TTGF say she then good. If she is not then they are racist.. I have never known the two to compete in a manner to determine that Marisa is better than Thema and vice versa..

  3. It’s a sad day in T&T, Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When the chronology of events are looked at closely, it is most obvious that the plan from the start was to put Dick at all cost. It would be nice to know what it is about Tamar that the members of the board do not like. I really hope it is not her complexion. Tamar pic was done before the signing with the clause, Dick pic was after and showed more nudity yet the board never put her before the disciplinary committee. If Williams is still injured why did the fly her to Brazil, and how did Dick get there so fast. So many unanswered questions.

  4. Things like these will only cease to exist when we all realize and more importantly, ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING about the fact that individuals & groups of individuals with elitist mentalities & agendas manipulate & corrupt almost EVERY sphere of society in much of the Caribbean, & ESPECIALLY here in Trinidad. Business, Politics, Sports, Culture, Arts & Entertainment, Education…you name it, there is some elitist entity either controlling or seeking to control & manipulate for reasons that have absolutely NOTHING to do with fairness, equity, decency or what is right for the greater good of as many as possible.

  5. Let us ask some straight questions! What’s yours? 1) When was a travel booking made for the replacement? 2) Where is the coach’s report that is being used as the basis for dropping the young lady? 3) Where are the records of the meeting at which the decision was taken to send a replacement?………………………………….

  6. Well if they want to bring up sub par performance let talk about Marisa’s last competition……in March…the International Gymnix, where Marisa competed and results not great, and all around performance score…..places her in the 200’s this calendar year, results are easy to find they are posted, as are the video’s she barely scored above 50, and she wasn’t even competing in the Elite Event at Gymnix…….so how can a be ready?

    • Marisa was scheduled to compete for Ortona Gymnastics Club as a JO Level 10 at the Alberta Provincials in Fort McMurray on April 16th, Saturday at 8am. But scratched. Did she know she was going to Brazil ahead of time? If she actually was in Fort McMurray Saturday, how could she even arrive in Brazil by her reported arrival time of 9am Sunday March 17th?

  7. Go paul luck is not see paul luck! Your name don’t have chee or trump it was a silly mistake but thats life we have to live with it and move on…maybe she’s not mentally prepared cause there will be ppl be set to embarrass her there…

  8. The stone the builder rejected becomes the corner stone hmm they are making a mockery out of this poor young lady with such a bright future.

  9. Maybe it is time for her to defect and fly under another country’s flag. They are doing all they can to discredit her. Forget TT Thema, those who should be helping you do not appreciate you, but most of us do. Keep your head up, God works out everything.

  10. Not much of a sports fan but following this story it seems that it was always their plan to put the other girl to compete. we will see how high she places.

  11. From this moment forward, having a legal team has to be the norm for ‘all’ T&T sportsmen and women because these so-called officials in T&T sporting organizations are incompetent and grossly ineffective decision makers. Basic tried and proven decision making processes are sullied by favoritism and conscientious stupidity in these T&T sporting organizations. It’s sickening…

  12. The crooks in full effect, the Lue shues and Marquez!! Come for me nah ya damn nasty people