Home / Rio 2016 / Marisa makes history for T&T! Gymnast books Rio Olympics spot; but TTOC issues warning

Marisa makes history for T&T! Gymnast books Rio Olympics spot; but TTOC issues warning

Eighteen year old gymnast Marisa Dick wrote her name in Trinidad and Tobago’s sporting history today, after she travelled for a day and a half from Alberta to Edmonton to Houston and, finally, to Rio de Janeiro, where she shook off jet lag to secure the country’s first ever artistic gymnastics spot at an Olympic Games.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick competes on the floor exercise in the women's artistic gymnastics team event at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada on 12 July 2015. (Copyright AFP 2016/Kevin Van Paassen)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick competes on the floor exercise in the women’s artistic gymnastics team event at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada on 12 July 2015.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Kevin Van Paassen)

Dick’s journey began just after midnight on Friday while she finally stepped off a plane in Rio at 9.30 am today, on Sunday April 17. Her drive to Edmonton was roughly five hours long, followed by a four hour and 15 minute flight to Houston—exclusive of a lengthy lay over there—and a 10 hour trip to Rio.

And, just over seven hours later, she somersaulted her way into Trinidad and Tobago’s record books—after scores of 13.1466 (vault), 12.366 (uneven bars), 13.2 (beam) and 12.333 (floor).

The Trinidad and Tobago gymnast, who was born in Edmonton and has dual-citizenship, executed her patented “Dick Mount” on the beam, which, according to live updates from TheGymter, brought her warm applause and led to her highest score of the event.

Dick’s scores, according to a local gymnastics source, were not outstanding. But neither was anyone else’s at the Rio venue that has been heavily criticised by the competitors so far.

“The scores are much lower (from everyone) than they would normally be in this type of tournament,” said the gymnastics insider, who spoke to Wired868 on condition of anonymity. “It is kind of what I expected on floor, as she just came in and that was her first time on that apparatus. That is the score I wasn’t that happy with.

“Otherwise, it was fair. She came and did her best. It was better than having nobody there.”

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 last throwaway line is unlikely to go down well in some quarters.

The Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) obviously did have somebody else there. Twenty year old local gymnast Thema Williams was in Rio and had earned her right to compete this afternoon.

However, a day before the event, the TTGF withdrew Williams and inserted her alternate, Dick, in a decision that can still have explosive consequences.

TTGF president David Marquez said he made the decision in the best interest of local gymnastics, after an email from Williams’ coach, John Geddert, suggested that his athlete was not in good physical condition.

However, Williams’ attorney, Keith Scotland, insisted that proper procedure was not followed and subsequently launched an appeal.

As the gymnasts competed in Rio, Geddert suggested, on social media, that Williams would have easily secured an Olympic berth today. But it might be a moot point now.

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)

Or maybe not.

Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis told Wired868 this morning that he could not intervene regarding the TTGF’s selection of an athlete for the Rio Test event, since it was not an official Olympic event and therefore “is under the jurisdiction of the international federation and the organising committee.”

Lewis’ position appeared to have changed by Sunday evening though, once Dick had qualified for the actual Olympic competition. If, that is, his tweet was directed at the TTGF at all.

“As long as people understand its @TTOlympic that has the final say in respect of #TeamTTO selection for the Olympic Games,” tweeted Lewis. “Plain talk.”

Photo: Tweet from Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis on 17 April 2016.
Photo: Tweet from Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis on 17 April 2016.

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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323 comments

  1. Marisa said in the press conference she never tried out for team Canada because her heart was with Trinidad and Tobago .. not true! she tried out as a jr and was last place and didnt make the team

  2. Bitter/Sweet congratulations chica. Hope you are very successful. Thema girl. Keep your head high and your knees bent and believe God to work out this disgustingly distasteful situation…….

  3. I am very sorry but these people and TTGF need to be dissolved and never be permitted to ever enter Olympics ever again. they are a bunch of egoistic morons and embarrassment to Trinidad and Tobago. . You all suck.

  4. Massa Day still here, who are these people who are doing just like the WICBC

  5. Lasana, as someone in sport, my opinion is that this is a sad day for SPORT in TNT. I would really like to hear the opinion of the Minister of Sport on this. Also I think the TTFA should liaise with TTGF and find out how to get flights, Visa etc. in one day.

  6. Oh, gorm! My heart bleeds for Thema! Can she still compete if she switches nationality at this stage? Can we organise a GoFundMe to get her a Dominica or Qatar passport? https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/at-sochi-2014-athletes-nationality-is-pliable/2014/02/17/42eba17e-9802-11e3-ae45-458927ccedb6_story.html

  7. Adrian Ramsingh it’s not about being in a third world country. Shows the heart of man. There is a lot cultural reasoning behind a lot of things but politics and injustice happens everywhere my friend

  8. I will be glad for her sake if she eventually does well – I gather from all I’ve read that the place she gained was almost a given, so I’m not sure she’s proved herself yet. If she eventually does well, though, I think I will always feel that any honor the country gains has been tainted by all the nonsense that just went on. And I will continue to feel that Thema was cheated until I hear the whole story. Little transparency here….

  9. Lasana Liburd…does the Olympic spot now belong to the country or Dick?…

  10. Sure she knew she was going and training for that. Money talks.

  11. Ummmm….lets be clear here the Olympic spot is held by T and T Olympic. Commitee, not the athlete. They have yet to name who will go, also petitions have started to disolve the TTGF board, which acted reckless and irresponsible by indangering both athletes in the corrupt decision making by this selfish board which have 2 members that own the gym that is the rival of tots and tumblers where Thema trained most of her gymnastic life. This story is far from over…..and by the way, Marisa only had to beat 5 athletes to qualify, meaning most everyone that competed qualified at test event, look at the F.I.G. Report Marisa finished something like 55 out of 65 athletes , then that final 65 changes because girls qualified through team event, so essentially she only had to beat 5 girls which she did, and thankfully she wasn’t hurt competing on no sleep and under all that pressure from the TTGF

  12. ….Sorry man, not when she cheated and use influence behind the scenes to even get there….Truth be told, nobody gives ah shit!

  13. I don’t think it’s veto. But I’m waiting to find out more.

  14. Keith ur on the ball ,when when when and when would the place wake up

  15. I’m sorry. I’m not celebrating. Not supporting.

  16. The manner in which this whole scenario has played out opens itself up to be vetoed with enough valid reasons to sanction it … imho

  17. Hmm. Interesting tweet. But whadeass does it mean????. If they have a veto and can still send Thema I’m thinking it would be based on some hard evidence that the events of the last 48 hours were a conspiracy perpetrated by the TTGF and it nullifies their selection of Marisa for today’s event. But I can’t see Thema being allowed to compete because let’s face it ..she didn’t qualify for the Olympics. So the only scenario here is that the TTOC could say that based on the “fraud” comitted we not spending no money to send Dick to Rio. You know I think I could live with that! It’s our money after all.

  18. I have to admit to opining based on assumptions of the rules…in that if the both the country and the athlete are what qualified. If the rules are otherwise, I stand to be corrected…

  19. A coach at the event who was on twitter today mentioned that not all qualifiers will go on to compete at the Olympics. Apparently the country’s Olympic committee has final approval

  20. I think the TTOC has the right to leave out any person or organisation from the list that they submit to the Olympic Committee even if that member qualify or not, but they can’t dictate who the local organisation can sent to the games

  21. Lasana, is there another letter from Thema’s coach?

  22. Kwesi Prescod I don’t see that at all. Why do you say so?

  23. Isn’t it like to late for that statement?

  24. no…if Mr. Lewis continues with this line of thought, there will be no Thema and no Marisa in the TT Olympic Team, and T&T will not compete in the Female Gymnastics.

    It’s a ballsy move. Let’s see how it goes…

  25. Lasana sooo does this leave a door opened for Thema or has that chance evaporated with this test event? Or is he just trying to be relevant? ?

  26. Lasana recommend that this story go through an edit. Final results are in and she placed 55 out of 66 countries AND still qualified. The spot was always Trinidad and Tobago own. This story is a lot worse than I thought.

    • I just reworked the start and left it like that Jason Baptiste. I’ve spoken to half a dozen gymnastics people today and they also said something slightly different and couldn’t give exact figures.
      Maybe something concrete will surface later. For now, I’m just leaving it as she qualified and it is a first for T&T.

    • Apparently my mother could have qualified today. She is over 16 , Trinidadian and a female.

  27. well that is gun talk dey!! Let’s see what Brian Lewis does…

  28. How Cryptic is that???? What does that mean??? Does the ttoc have a veto?

  29. exactly my point. She was not even better than out Trinidad born girl but connections with the Association is what got her there. This is a typical exploit Trinidad story with the typical ending

  30. I dont think this story has ended quit yet…

  31. Maybe the disgust is too raw. I can’t get behind her. Plenty other athletes in team TTO to root for. Georgie. ..Andrew ..Njisane ..and the track and field will keep me pumped enough. I really can’t muster up excitement for Thema’s substitute.

  32. the big question is why didn’t she seek to represent Canada?

    • Didn’t think she was good enough to make a Canadian team. They are ranked very high. She placed 77th. Not sure she’s good enough.

    • She probably tried, but with more citizens comes more choice and with that a tougher selection Process. It is significantly easier to make a National Team in a country like Trinidad than Canada…. even or especially in a niche sport.Downside: Nepotism etc and lack of funding …you make the team but the team has no money to send you anywhere at the end most times you not going Olympics again, just for a different reason….

  33. I really feel “meh” about this historic achievement. Especially knowing that the test event seemed to be a breeze in that once you didn’t “kilketay” on de people floor and end up cat spraddle you were basically inside. I know Thema would have made it through. I can’t get over the fact that this young woman was cheated out of her rightful spot. I personally abhor injustice and although Marisa was not directly to blame for killing Thema’s dream I can’t muster up any champion dance for her.

  34. Congratulations to her —> fullstop.

  35. Thema probably crying her eyes out right now. Olympic is once every 4 years. It’s difficult to be happy for Marisa Dick while another is hurting like this.

  36. ..Marisa always know she was going so was keeping herself in competition state…….

  37. The athlete, Marisa Dick, should be supported despite the concerns many have expressed. Clearly, TTGF officials’ handling of the selection process and the replacement process is questionable. If Thema Williams’ ranking was 59 and Marisa Dick’s was 77th, shouldn’t Thema be the first choice as dictated by TTGF selection process? Why complicate the matter? The replacement method used a couple days ago drew more scrutiny on the bacchanal typical of leadership in sporting organizations in T&T. Always there are cronyism and nepotism and other nonsense in the fray when it comes to making simple decisions… simple decision making should be transparent, clean and above board. I never see a place in which decision making becomes so complexed, political and ‘bacchanalistic’, if the grammar police could allow me a bligh on that word.

    • ..You contradict yourself when you say Dick should be supported and then!advance reasons why she should not be. Long term patriotism demands pressure on the cynical, Machiavellian TTGF and the apparently more amenable TTOA to remove Dick..

  38. Congrats to Marisa Dick, however, this whole thing was handled poorly. Can you imagine how Thema feels right now? The hurt, the anger the disappointment? I hope someone reaches out to her and comforts her. I feel for her. The TTGF handled this so poorly, they have to understand the girls are human and they have feelings.

  39. Why are people either forgetting or ignoring the fact that Thema’s coach said he asked her to withdraw from the competition and that she was showing no signs of improvement? How is that Marisa’s fault?
    And that that information was made available to the TTGF in the final report. The day before the competition. Even though he asked her to withdraw since last week.

    • Because that’s not what he said. This is the full text of his email.

      “Here is the letter sent at 12:50… none of which ever received the courtesy of a response by the President or VP.

      TO: TTGF

      As expected

      Your federation has read between the lines to find the excuse you feel is justified for making the change that several have always wanted to make. My concern with filing reports is exactly this. I stated that we were limiting pounding. This is normal for all athletes gearing up for the meet of their lives. This is to reserve their legs and not place them at additional risk. I limited Jordyn Wieber’s “pounding” whenever possible. Sprinters do not sprint extra meters, swimmers to not swim extra laps prior to important competitions, it is the same for gymnastics. It is also normal for athletes dealing with MINOR injuries so as not to turn them into MAJOR ONES. I am confident that a large majority of athletes in this competition are dealing with limitations whether it be shoulders, back, wrists, hamstrings, achilles, or ankles. I did not say she was not landing at all….. I stated she may not perform well but this did not mean she would not be able to perform up to the standards I would expect of an international class athlete on this important world stage. Not performing well (up to her full potential) more than likely applies to 50% of the athletes in the field at this point. She would be able to perform.

      I mentioned podium being a disaster. But is was for many athletes getting used to the lighting, the podium, the ceiling height. She also performed satisfactory routines after her initial attempts. We chose to do a dance through on floor. This is always an option for athletes. The purpose of podium is to acclimate to the competitive arena. This was accomplished. I have known several US and other foreign athletes (men and women) who have less than stellar podium performances yet did quite well in competition. Have you ever watched a podium performance? 3 falls were on her first bar routine (which obviously have nothing to do with an ankle) but she had nearly a flawless routine on her second attempt. She fell on her first vault but she corrected in on her second. 2 falls were on beam but she corrected both of those also. YOU over reacted! Why not use my second day report where it was stated that she did some good things on bars and beam. You chose to hunt for a negative.

      I guess I should have remained vague or silent in my report.

      Then there is not even the courtesy of a phone conversation to obtain more objective information. David stated that he called “several” times to the hotel and my cell but it went to voice main. I have no voice mail messages and only 1 missed call to my cell at 12:20 AM (I was sleeping). I was in my room from 11:00 on. My room phone did not ring once.. Did not this situation warrant a personal conversation? I think it did but you (David) did not want information that would nullify the path you wanted to take. You were not diligent in protecting the earned rights of this athlete. Perhaps it was late in the evening… how about a conversation in the morning. Isn’t this important enough to warrant a conversation. I believe this violates your national team agreement (I do not have a copy with me) that states something to the affect that the responsible coach must be involved in the decision to withdraw or replace an athlete. I do not think an email at 1:27 am qualifies as proper communication and therefore you may very well be in violation of the NTA.

      As for the withdrawal comment and reference to such, that is again reading between the lines. That in the course of a normal conversation that included understanding the responsibility on her shoulders and would be a normal question when dealing with any slight injury. DO YOU THINK YOU CAN DO THIS? The answer to that has not changed. SO basically because I included that in a report, this athlete will now suffer the injustice of being removed.

      Your assigned athletic trainer and physio (Nicole Fuentes) who is here on site, informed you all that you were over-reacting. I am informing you that you are over reacting.

      THEN you think that placing an athlete (Marissa) on a plane for 14 hours…. enduring a 3-4 hour time change…. add in layovers…. is a great solution that places your country in a better situation. There is no way that this should even be a consideration. First of all it places that athlete in grave danger. There is a reason why coaches train lightly after significant flights. There is a reason why there is an established standard of 1 day of acclimation for every 1-2 hours of time change. What about flight delays? Oh my! This is clearly a sign of not knowing sports. I could understand if there wasn’t any other option BUT there is!

      This is a shame. You are not here. You do not know the extent of any situation. You are not trusting the advise of the physio that you contracted for the care of this athlete. You are not trusting her coach to know what is best for the athlete. I understand what is at stake and I am not one to risk that for personal agendas (Ive been to the Olympics). This is about fairness and what it right. As I write I get the report from the medical staff here at the Olympic test event and in their assessment she is cleared to participate fully based on her decision to do so. For obvious reason they can not make the decision for her but they did not medically disqualify her OR have any significant concerns about health and safety.

      I hear now that Marissa’s coach on the floor will be Richardo. If this is true I have to laugh at the irony. Does anyone else on the council see the conflict of interest here???

      But again…. it has been expected.

      I would like to say it has been a wonderful experience in working with the TTGF but we all know the chaos, drama and turmoil that has filled the air over the past 2 years. My regret is for Thema and her family and her Trinidad club who have vested so much into this process. Thank you Fran, Corryn and Dale for the undying support you have given this process and all that you do for fairness in the sport of gymnastics.”

    • Ever since the Glasgow qualifiers the TTGF has not behaved as an impartial organisation. They have had to have their hands forced along the way so many times simply to acknowledge the conditions of their own organisation’s rules, just because they had a preexisting relationship with the Canadidadian…

    • Ok. But Nicole, that email doesn’t address where he said in his previous email that he asked her to withdraw. But even if he did address it, how is any of this Marisa’s fault? I saw somebody in another thread wish paralysis on her. Really?

    • They’re both very young girls. Only an idiot would wish either of them harm. The TTGF board needs to immediately resign though. They are all adults making an absolute mess of our talented athletes’ potential

    • Chabeth, you may have come into this issue late, but the board ALWAYS wanted to send Dick. Even though Thema was the rightful candidate. The conspired early o clock for her to go. This is the result.

    • Jeremy… Lol.
      No, dear. I came into this issue from the start and even gave Nicole the name of a lawyer who I organized to work pro bono for Thema to deal with the TTGF.
      I was also one of the more vocal critics of Marisa’s when she posted a pic saying her heart belongs to Canada. The dominant reaction to that was that Trinis are ungrateful and that we should be happy to have two elite gymnasts and that Marisa should go represent another country because only in Trinidad would she get fight down. Something to that effect. Even when Shaka wrote his piece alleging that discrimination against foreign born and foreign based athletes was alive and well, I was probably the most critical of that piece and again the dominant opinion in the group was that we should be grateful that Marisa wants to represent us.
      Now, through no fault of hers, Marisa has the opportunity to represent the country and people vex with her?

    • Wow! Thanks for posting this letter

    • Well if anyone is cool with selling there country born for foreign born imports that love and desire they own country then!! we shouldn’t have birth papers or Nationality!! just call Trinidad !! Every man land!!

    • They didn’t even waited for an official medical report

    • Chabeth Haynes then I am perplexed. No one is upset with Dick. The issue is with the board who were clearly biased in favour of one athlete. This is the source of all this controversy.

    • Nobody is upset with her but insinuating she was part of a plot to get rid of Thema? Ok.

    • If it was me it would be a tough pill to swollen especially how I got the opportunity

    • Chabeth Haynes I am sure you have not seen me say it’s Marisa’s fault. And people will always be assholes. How could you wish injury on another human being. That’s stupid. Who does that help? Bless them yes.

    • Chabeth Haynes re plot. She wasn’t ignorant of it either. Go back and look at her media blitz re the Dick Mount. There was no run off competition and she knew it. She knew the contract she signed. She knew what she meant by “its cutthroat time.”

    • But Nicole, I didn’t single you or anybody else out in my initial comment.
      And if I remember correctly I singled out her “cutthroat” comment.
      I’m not “on her side” in this matter. I’m just confused because there were things that she did… Like the cutthroat comment and the my heart belongs to Canada picture… Where she was clearly responsible and the majority opinion in here was that we should be grateful that she wants to represent us… A mindset to which I objected vehemently. There wasn’t this outpouring of outrage.
      And now, for something we don’t know the extent, if any, of her responsibility, there’s anger directed to her. After people were saying we should be grateful she even wants to represent us. I just find it confusing, that’s all.

    • So you feel this last minute opportunity was by coincidence?

    • Chabeth you trying to understand why Trinis have bad mind? You know you ent getting an answer to that right? Lol.

    • And you asked me how it’s her fault and I answered that:
      “Ok. But Nicole, how is any of this Marisa’s fault? I saw somebody in another thread wish paralysis on her. Really?”

    • Hahahaha, Nicole!
      Sherdon Ifm Pierre… This was a gift to Marisa from Thema’s coach’s poor choice of words. I still think the first email was very damaging to Thema.

    • Chabeth Haynes you saw his report?

    • Nicole Philip Greene lmao paralysis lmao na i eh going so far i rather God do his work as he know’s the Truth!! and Good doh follow the wicked at heart so!!

    • Usually a medical staff rules a player out… but I thought his report was very sport specific meaning that we may not fully understand his terms seeing that we are not into gymnastics

    • Check his email. I posted it somewhere here.

    • I saw the emails as published by wired868 and the email you put in this thread.

    • Sherdon Ifm Pierre, Marisa competed at worlds with a cracked rib. The decision for her to continue was left up to the coach despite the medical report.

    • Chabeth Haynes but neither of those contains his actual report. Which his email posted here makes clear was taken out of context. I take your point that without his report the TTGF would not have had grounds but given that Marisa was being mobilized before they even sent their email to her coach, I’d say they were looking for any excuse.

    • Since the “picture scene” they jus waiting to pounce on her

    • I completely agree they were looking for an excuse which Geddert should have been more cognizant of.
      And I absolutely think they communicated with Marisa once they got the email from Geddert and before they responded to him.
      But this entire “opportunity” for Marisa was created I think by Geddert’s email and his poor choice of words.
      But if competing at the qualifier doesn’t even guarantee you the opportunity to qualify at the Olympics then we just have to see how this continues to unfold…

    • Not if their actions constituted what he considered to be breaching their contract. I don’t think he saw that coming.

    • Chabeth Haynes the “opportunity” for Marisa was created long before Geddert’s report. It was in the pipeline from inception, as Marisa was the athlete they wanted to represent the country. Thema would have been out a long time ago, since the pic surfaced, and since that didn’t work, they implemented plan B. Even if Geddert’s report didn’t say anything about an injury specifically, they would have manipulated his report, to suit their agenda anyway. Think about it logically, Marisa had to make it to Brazil, with enough time, to get at least 8hrs sleep, before the start of the event. Which means Marisa was already in route to Brazil, before they decided to axe Thema. At the end of the day the TTGF was NEVER going to let Thema represent the country. There is no way that Marisa, and her camp, would NOT have be aware of this. So Marisa isn’t totally squeaky clean in all of this either.

    • Don’t think he had the slightest thought that a replacement was at hand

    • Sherdon Ifm Pierre Nobody said Geddert had any inkling a replacement was at hand. The only way Marisa could have made the meet in time, is if she was already in route to Brazil, BEFORE Geddert was informed that Thema was axed

    • I knw I’m saying by sending that email… you think he had the slightest thought of a replacement will.be possible

    • Sherdon Ifm Pierre I don’t think Geddert would have ever imagined the TTGF would have done something so underhanded, not even in his wildest dreams. They gave him false security, as he was sure Thema was the representative, as she was already in Rio, practicing, and there was no follow up correspondence, or talks with the TTGF of anything to suggest, that she would be pulled. The TTGF even went AGAINST the reports of their own medical team. They set Geddert up really well for a big fall.

  40. Are there grounds to sue the federation ….. I imagine since these manicous was acting under the umbrella of the TTGF that they are waived of direct personal charges? There must he a case here.