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. Something isn’t right. They moving like the Miss World pageant committee. We say we will send you but we really prefer this one.

  2. Might I suggest we lit their fb page up? I already left a comment there

  3. I hope the replacement was legitimate and done with proper protocol. I would be pissed if Thema’s coach and Thema were not involved in the decision process.

  4. WDA!!! Bad breed, bad mine moves.
    #unsurprisef

  5. Well orchestrated plot from day 1

  6. Can’t believe this madness wow!! TTGF wow!!

  7. This is a joke right? This is satire. I did not read the article.

  8. Definitely taken a toll on her …. the TTGF really f***ed this situation up …. pigs!!

  9. Even if she is allowed to this whole debacle must have taken a toll on her mentally

  10. TV6 News and a Brazilian doctor say differently and it is reported Thema’s lawyer is at this time still advocating on her behalf …. waaaii

  11. Cheryl that’s a poor statement to make to wish Dick not to medal because of Thema’s issue with the organisation. Ridiculous … remember who your argument is with

  12. Well from the video posted Thema wasn’t going to the Olympics either with that performance

  13. her coach has no reason to lie about the reason she fell 6 times other than to protect her and her interest… so truth is probably she fell 10 times and at some point he will have to tell cause tomorrow it would have been on everyone TV screen and then TTGF rightfully would ask him why he made no mention of it…

  14. It still is immoral…. Trinidad and Tobago should have no representative rather than this furor and you know what is nice and poetic Dick will not medal …. Just using T&T to further own personal ambitions

  15. The bad part for the TTGF is that after all that crap no one will believe them especially when Thema will continue to insist that she could have done it…. i knew of the injury a few months back, but clearly she did not recover from it as hoped…

  16. Yep. She can barely land on her right foot

  17. And that video was posted early February…

  18. Wow looking at this it seems she is in real pain.

  19. If she was still performing this badly I understand replacing her http://youtu.be/nCf6_8Fldn0

  20. The real issue here is the TTGF’s credibility……..they have none!

  21. Im the VP on endurance sport NF, and as Race Director i have already threatened people that were totally exhausted but did not want to retire, that i will disqualify them from the Race and as RD i have the right to do so for medical reasons.

  22. But then again. Some people will let only see what they watch to see eh. Very unfortunate if she was indeed concealing the fact that she’s injured though

  23. because he send the mail yesterday… they met last night and there is a lil delay until it hits FB

  24. something smelling FIFAish if those events were true why will she need a lawyer and how come it is only now after the fact and people’s reacton that these facts are being released … FIFA FIFA

  25. Well. Somebody asked for the coach’s words unfiltered. Let the chips fall where they may

  26. i doh even want to chek meh blood pressure!! smh

  27. And why would Thema need a lawyer for an injury? LOL

  28. How come we didn’t hear about this injury before?

  29. (THE FOLLOWING IS THE MEDIA RELEASE BY THE TTGF BASED ON THE EMAIL ALSO SHOWN HERE BY THEMA WILLIAMS’ COACH.)
    Dear Members of the Media:
    Early this morning, The Trinidad & Tobago Gymnastics Federation made an emergency decision to pull Ms Thema Williams from the test event in Rio due to an injury. Williams will be replaced by alternate Marisa Dick, effectively immediately.
    According to Coach John Gedderd , “Thema has been nursing an injured ankle and has limited all pounding and landings for over the past week. He went on to state that unfortunately she fell 6 times out of three events on podium training and has since showed no signs of recovery. We are sincerely concerned for her health and cannot risk further injury.
    Dick, the alternate, is making her way to Rio to represent Trinidad and Tobago.
    “We have confidence that Marisa will represent Trinidad and Tobago well on the international stage. While we are saddened, we wish Thema a speedy recovery and Marisa will do her best on such short notice,” said the TTGF president David Marquez.
    Dick along with Williams, both represented Trinidad and Tobago at the World Championship in Scotland and both girls acquired the score to the Test Event.
    We wish Thema a speedy recovery and best of luck to Marisa!
    Warm Regards,
    Donna Lue Shue
    TTGF
    749-8053
    ——————————————————————————–

    From: John Geddert
    Date: April 15, 2016 at 7:24:59 PM AST
    To: Frances Dow , Carynn C
    Subject: Re: Hi John
    Please pass on to whoever is interested. I thought Nicole was delivering the updates but these are posts from my Facebook page.
    Day one of the Test event in Rio almost complete (a Padron family reserve on Baja beach will cap it off). First impression…. There is a heap load of “we will not be ready in time” around here. Infrastructure (roads) is the main concern but it seems venues are incomplete also … 3 months out! But it is 85! Rumors are that Brazil looks incredible and is sure to advance. Romania will have to get by on guts and tradition (and let’s hope they do)… More later as I am being distracted by a quarter moon over the ocean
    Day 2 complete: training went well today with Thema doing some good work on beam and bars. Her foot seems to be a bit tender so we are limiting the pounding. Podium tomorrow (basically the dress rehearsal for the big show Sunday). Numbers indicate that most athletes should advance (but it ain’t over til it’s over. But then again what is “most”. I’d rather not be a part of the ” al-most ” group. Right now all sights are on doing whatever it takes to advance.
    Saw Germany and Korea today and both were doing good stuff. Korea was a bit inconsistent but who knows what that means. US men are well represented with John Orozco and Jake Dalton (ladies sigh).
    Got a glimpse of the incomplete gym arena (isn’t the purpose of a test event to do a dry run at the official venue?). Someone joked that they forgot to put doors in that are big enough to get the mats through… Had to be joking right ?
    As bad as the traffic is (45 minutes to one hour to go 5km) the smog is worse. There is a constant haze covering what I know to be gorgeous mountains in the distance.
    Day 3 note so Rosie! Thema forgot to inform me h
    That she was headed to the bus… I waited for her at the hotel… Search until I missed the last possible bus and then grabbed a cab …. Worried about where she could be. She didn’t answer texts, calls or Facebook. Ugh! But we move on.
    Podium was a disaster with 6 falls on 3 events. She has been dealing with a sore ankle to the point that I asked her to withdraw last week. She assured me she can do this. We have been limiting all pounding and landings yet today she showed little signs of being able to perform well. We will rest tomorrow and rely on heart .
    I will be constantly checking with my sources as to whether or not there are any scratches because at last report 1-2 athletes may not advance.
    Goodly a Bree report tomorrow

  30. Just disgusting. I hope she goes on to represent another country and gets gold because we sure don’t known how to appreciate our talent and treat them with respect . Field athletes cricketers gymnast…..

  31. Didn’t the Minister of Sports also give money for Thema this week?

  32. Never ever felt the matter was settled. Praying for Thema and hoping she and her family get some sort of justice out of this.. Is their a single sports association that has their act together in the entire country? Maybe Hockey or Netball? Wow!

  33. teh order of sporting decisions works as follows: if a athlete has a apeal to a referee: apeal to competiton Jury, denied, apeal to NF, denied, apeal to IF, denied, Apeal to CAS, suposedly final… but not necessarily anymore…

  34. Something smelling like FIFA here!

    • Well FIFA would be considered the IF for Football, however they are emebedded diffrerently into IOC due to the Power of the WC…

    • Andreas Stueven I not so bright my alphabet is real bad so words certainly will make more sense to me…. If something is rotten it is rotten and this entire fiasco is rotten….. So if the country says we do not want her to represent us what then

    • Sorry IF is international Federation … the thing is a sports federation has to make rules to decide who is the best athlete. in some it is easy to do cause it is the first at the finish line. in others it is more complicated because taste and perception may flaw a fair result… it the case of Thema: the TTGF has laid out rules as early as beginning of last year and seems now hell bend to change those rules because the “wrong” person won… this is not a case of what the country wants, this is about the best athlete has to represent the country choosen by the rules that the responsible body has outlined…

  35. If it was not clear before its clear now ,somebody or bodies have an agenda. I hope that they are not allowed to get away with it.

  36. And IF is the International Federation, that would be the body upholding rules for a specific sport, especially if it is a olympic sport, contrary to what people may believe, but neither TTOC or IOC has significant influence on the sporting decissions of a NF, the IF has a lot though, they can actually over rule before it goes to CAS..

  37. a German court has over ruled one of its rulings lately claiming bias towards sports bodies as they mainly influence it constitution… Lasana maybe you want to repost that link of yours…

  38. Total bias but best of luck to the ladies in future endeavours.

  39. Cas is the court of abitration in Sports it is seated in Lausanne Switzerland…

  40. Court of Arbitration for Sport