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 managing director and chief 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. This was always the agenda. They tried it with the nude shots, but that didn’t work cause her replacement Also had a topless shot. Now this

  2. Lasana Liburd i think its worth a while to find out when tickets were bought…

  3. The IF has a lot of power over the NF…. and with CAS being looked at as biased, they will not want to enforce that perception…

  4. Cheryl and Mark aside from too late that would be the wrong petition anyways. What Trinbago wants has no bearing here, the outlined qualification criteria, that TTGF seems to continuously violate, have…

  5. That’s what the federation planned on…a last minute switch so even legal action won’t makes sense…

  6. so when are we starting the petition …. Trinbago does not want to be represented by Marisa Dick !!!

  7. Minister of sport has no balls!! Call him out nah!!

  8. I hope she sues the life out of them and this doesn’t put ms Dick in a good light either. Hope she gets the support she needs…

  9. What the jiggery-pokrry I really reading here? Madness! !?!

  10. What rubbish is this?,she done reach and set up…..so what just stop AND fly in someone else?,WTF Is going on here. If she wasn’t good enough why do allllll this? Utter rubbish….

  11. Who the hell are these people..could i get their names …am ashamed …i feel the pain of such nasty tactics

  12. I really hope for their sake this is not true!!

  13. Thema Williams’s alleged substandard performance Clears the way for Dick to be pushed in.

  14. Subpar performances ? Even if it’s tru U guys are responsible for that!!! Putting her thru an emotional roller coaster for mths before she knew her fate over a topless pic a pic that resembled a lot of other female athletes in her field (correct me if I’m wrong both before and during their representing their country ) so if there is anyone that deserved to be disqualified and fired from their jobs it’s u TTGF fmc!!!!

  15. And TTGF second vice-president Ricardo Lue Shue hopes there will be no CumMeant.

  16. This is beyond ridiculous. And then is a whole lot of boo-hooing when T&T’s top athletes go on to represent other countries.

  17. WTA this was their intentions all along. They waited until the commotion died down. Wow

  18. Leslie-Ann Boisselle story doesnt finish

  19. the Best i can tell Thema is leave them be! Go get yuh education!! and Participate in NCAA Gymnastic competition as they have..if u win ..more leverage you have etc..also!!! and Switch!! cause if you do very very good and you up there some years now..America will come calling for you to Join there Team!! the TTGF eh deserve you!! ..let them destroy the sport and there own career down here!!! ….is my best advice!!

  20. These bias people always finding fault they better put her back…

  21. These people are the nastiest I’ve ever come across. Like cesspool, shit stain nasty. They make ISIS look like a baby christening, not even Osama Bin Laden had he been alive would send his daughter to these people because they’re so nasty. I rather go to the beetham landfill for breakfast then take an afternoon nap and play with corbeau than to break bread with the TTGF.

  22. That was plan don’t care what nobody say.

  23. Nah!!! They not fucking serious! This for real?!?!

  24. this is some crazy crap. I have NEVER heard of anything like this anywhere else during an Olympic year.

  25. I got the impression this would be the outcome from the onset of the TTGF delays in announcing Williams as the candidate. Unfortunately, I am not shocked or surprised.

  26. Why two ah dem cyah go though?

  27. So Marisa flys directly to Rio avoiding questions by the T&T media and other interested observers while Thema remains behind.
    This smells like a setup….a well planned and executed one.

  28. Gerard, in the world of prejudice, reasons can be found later

  29. This is just too weird to not make sense…there must be another side to this strange about-face – says he hopefully, if not heads will roll.

    • Coach was not happy with her dry run performance. Included that in his report. Instead of receiving support, she was removed. Try to imagine the mental pressure this girl was under. One crack, one slip is all they needed and she knew it.

  30. Ah goh March fuh this inno… this…

  31. They never had any intention of ending her. Their last plan did not work so they come up with this. The TTOC should cease funding of this country club.

  32. Thema got this covered…….lawyer up and take their asses to court!

  33. Dear Thema,

    While I empathize with the unfair treatment you have been receiving it’s clear that the TTGF doesn’t want you to represent TnT. I’ve learnt that sometimes God gives us difficult battles to take us to better.
    Try to see what he’s showing you and like the Phoenix rise strong again. You are an African and your ancestors are proud. Tell the TTGF htmc.
    Bless.

  34. That’s why she should go where her talent is appreciated TTGF you guys are such a disgrace