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. I’m disgusted by this, there will no congratulations coming from me cuz this was a selfish act from day one and Ms Dick was part of it. ….sorry

  2. And three West Indies teams are champions…..that doesn’t exonerate the WICB! The WICB and TTGF are DICK-heads!

  3. I am great odds to be overjoyed at this. This “historic” placement is forever tainted in my mind

  4. I don’t really have any emotions of joy attached to this!!! to me i see it as her dress or should i say performing for Canada and showing her country her skill set!! Rather than Performing for TnT!! so in the end Congrats Canada you got one in!!

  5. Trinis tend to be very honest with how they support national athletes. I’ve seen NUMEROUS instances where trinis have abandoned patriotism and supported ‘other’ athletes. Ria Ramnarine comes to mind.
    I have no problem with foreign born athletes representing TnT. But it’s clear, this lady is using our country as a stepping stone for her personal ambitions and adults conspired for her to get the spot over a local born athlete.
    Therefore, I am not going to be supporting Marisa Dick. I do not care what she does or what she places. I do not wish her harm, but I do not wish her well. My principles trounce patriotism.

  6. Hearing that Dick is now 37th?

  7. ..But the issue is not gymnastics. Is it?..

  8. I’m curious about how many people on “Team Thema” have actually seen both women perform or were even interested in local gymnastics prior to this controversy. :/

    • Does it matter? Do I have to play football to be a supporter?

    • Jeremy Francis Not PLAY football, but I would think you would have an interest prior to passionately supporting a player just because he’s part of a controversy.

    • We have an interest because it is the Olympics and representation of the country. It is also about unfair treatment of a young lady. So I get why people are passionate.

    • Uhmm…ppl are supporting Thema bcus of the way she’s been treated and the way in which the TTGF continues to handle this situation…she is a young athlete who for unknown reasons has been targeted. I don’t think we need to have ‘an intetest’ in gymnastics to see that…

    • People are forming firm and passionate opinions about both gymnasts’ talent and the operation of the gymnastic federation with little knowledge of any. This is strange.

    • I could understand the passion if one were following Thema Williams long time and was sure she could do well at the Olympics if given the opportunity.

    • Erline, Thema is ranked higher than Marisa in the World rankings. As a result, she is the one that was supposed to represent T&T at the event. That is the rule. The board, for whatever reason, saw Marisa as the person they wanted, and since last year have been trying to get her in the spot. The Minister of Sport had to get involved soon after the election to prevent this. These are facts.
      Efforts were made to tarnish Thema, and it backfired when Marisa was also found with photos. If it were not for the public outcey and layers, this would have been swept under the carpet a long time ago.
      This is why people are passionate.

    • Sports and corruption both inspire very passionate responses – this is not about gymnastics, this is about national pride, dishonesty and abuse of power.

    • actually i been following Thema since she was a Prodigy from Tots and Tumblers!! especially when they use to have Gold Medalist from America come to Trinidad to give seminars and what not.. and i always remember, everyone who came down here, was always impressed with Thema at her age back then!! so to see her from small to reach this stage is lets say a Journey for some people…so for you to state that people don’t follow gymnastic before this controversy is just plain stupid and arrogant on your part!!! Erline Andrews!!….

    • David Gintoki Aguillera That’s good for you. But I suspect you’re in the minority. Most others are bandwagonists. Which is what I’ve been implying :/

    • heck i even remember that American Gymnast with Trini roots who came down was in the 90’s cant remember what year !!! but he came down an was speaking bout thema, even indicating that she was that Good to even go and train and be apart of the US team!!! that’s why i can be so invested and totally disrespected by such bullcrap!!! and will not support a CANADIAN in sheep clothing!!! using my Country to Impress her Canadian Federation on how Good she is etc

    • David Gintoki Aguillera I’m actually torn about this. I’ve done what I’m sure most people haven’t: I sort out every bit of video I could find of both women performing. I think they’re both mediocre, to be honest, with Thema showing a little more skill and potential. She does more challenging moves than Marisa. But she’s also inconsistent. In most of the videos I’ve watched she’s had particular difficulty with her landings. The last video of her – posted in February – was particularly bad. I’m interested in your response as someone who’s watched her long time.

    • Erline Andrews Unless you are a qualified gymnastics coach/judge, and have seen ALL of their performances, it would be difficult for you to make such statements with absolute certainty.

    • That has always been her case!! from small!! inconsistency , the thing is i mostly will say!! most of her training was based on the technical side.but not mental side!! on her best days she cud beat anyone..but that’s where the mental part comes in..but i guess you can blame that being a prodigy at a young age yet never having anyone to challenge you! or take you to your limits!! i haven’t really watch dick perform!! so i can’t really say much!!

    • Jeremy Francis I think I’ve seen enough. There are videos of all the athletes at the Glasgow event last November, so you can compare Williams and Dick with other international athletes. Williams did far better than Dick in the floor exercise, which is the main reason she placed so much higher than her overall. But every other video I’ve seen of Williams performing on the floor hasn’t been near as good. Her landings in particular are atrocious.

    • …yet she is ranked higher in the World standings than Marisa. Go figure.

    • on the Poles she is better than Dick!

    • Jeremy Francis I don’t know what you mean by that. She placed higher than Dick at the Glasgow event. Give me a link to the world rankings you’re talking about.

    • David Gintoki Aguillera Yes she is. She takes more risks. But the landing! How can she improve that?!

    • The Mental Part i stated Erline Andrews once she can harness and control her mental state, she will be Gold..remember i stated she was a Prodigy that out classed anyone in Trinidad and Tobago for years, so she never really had that chance of building Mental Strength when challenged!! hence her reason to going States now!! its all part of building that part for her……she has the skills set . just the mental part she needs to harness

    • Knowing that she is tempestuous and unpredictable only makes the TTGF actions more heinous… If they had her best interests at heart they would have tried to keep her as even keeled as possible so she could focus on her sport. Even an idle internet commentator like me can tell that they always wanted her to fail to supplant her with their Canadidadian…

    • Erline Andrews, I have been ardent fan of gymnastics for well over thirty years and had always hoped to one day see us represented. Now it has finally happened, but because of all the controversy, it is bitter sweet dream come true for me. Thema has so much potential and she reminds me of Dominique Dawes.

    • Natalia Dopwell they want to Build ah Brand Around Dick!! that’s what they pushing for!!

    • Make a Disney movie out if this farce…? Call it “What a Dick”

    • Erline Andrews My bad, it was the Glasgow event I was referring to.

    • David Gintoki Aguillera This is what I’m talking about. People speculating about motives without evidence. But I can’t come down so hard on you because you said you’re a long time follower of gymnastics. :/

    • Natalia Dopwell and use Moby Dick as her parents or agent lmao

    • Erline Andrews no its no speculations! hun! if you go back to after the Glasgow event and it was time for TTGF to declare who goes to rio..look at Dick an all her interviews in Canada and so on!! and tell me if that isn’t someone who looking like they eh sure they getting picked or not……….DIck knew she was Getting Picked a long time!! especially wen she told Canada news reporter its a Cut throat world but she gives many mannerism and clues to saying that she will be the one going!!! now check this..you take thema out cuz u doh wanna injury her..but you bring dick who injury was worst in Glasgow and heck u doh even know if she is fit or not or any injury but making her partake in the rio test??? come on…….all of that just says 2 me !! they already knew her status, and medical fitness etc etc to slot her in to partake in this event………….doh get tie up..Dick was in this the whole time

    • David Gintoki Aguillera The process of selecting and de-selecting an athlete has to be changed to avoid too much power concentrated in too few hands and to allow such decisions to be challenged before they can take effect. People who genuinely care about this issue should push for that. Williams can get another chance in 4 years.

    • Na!! Thema next Chance is NCAA Gymnastics!! look out for her on that where she will be Competing !! but like the TTOC president said its up to them to decide who they pic to go to the Olympics so i wait to see who!!

    • David Gintoki Aguillera What do you mean? You mean this Olympics or the next Olympics? Are they planning on changing the selection process?

    • This Olympics!! remember they have final say on who goes to the Olympics!! so he doh bound to pick dick if the case arise

    • David Gintoki Aguillera I don’t think they can make changes. There are international rules.

    • no not changes but not picking her..The TTGF can pick the athlete to represent there federation.. but The TTOC picks the Team to represent the country…

    • David Gintoki Aguillera I’m now reading Lasana’s story. I can’t see them doing anything.

    • they just wont pick anyone to rep in Gymnastic if they choose to go down that road..it doesnt mean they can change pics.its just they wont pick anyone

    • David Gintoki Aguillera I understand. I don’t see them doing anything to stop Dick competing.

    • We will see..remember not everything was by the book in this move..but we will see

  9. I am great odds to be overjoyed at this. This “historic” placement is forever tainted in my mind

  10. I get the anger. But wasn’t at some point Ms Dick wasn’t allow to participate either due to pictures that surfaced? I don’t see the point in blaming her. Not sure if she had much to do with the injustice. Is she suppose to say no I am not going to compete in the Olympics? I haven’t follow the entire story. But she’s been working hard to make the Olympic team also. Now how she got there wasn’t right. Unless there is evidence that comes out showing she was part of a propaganda I can’t see how we can accuse her of anything.

    • Agreed!
      i’m really not understanding blaming Ms Dick for this mess

    • Ms. Dick always knew she was going to be the one representing us. Jump high or low. Hence she was prepared down to her flight arrangement. ???. #Justsaying. That’s a story that will come out soon tho.
      T&T first ever placement will forever be tainted in unethical behavior and cheaters.

    • Nonsense ….Thema was here competing …how could she possibly know they were gonna call her up. People have to exact blame where it’s due the TTGF messed up so keep the focus on the perpetrators …. Vasquez. .. Old Shoe (or whatever his famn name is) ….if I was her I was gonna do the same thing and so were you….this is a once in a lifetime opportunity

    • Ms. Dick was never debarred because of photos. Not sure where you got that information from. And if she was debarred because of it, why was she sent to Brazil to compete?

    • For a plan to come together all elements have to fall into place. All I want TTGF to post is when was Ms. Dick plane ticket booked. That’s the only question I want answered with proof.

    • Jeremy both competitors had some conspiracy with topless photos etc.

    • Jeremy both of them were referred to the Federation’s Disciplinary Committee for topless photos

    • Yes Malick, but Ms. Dick was never debarred from competing, as was suggested above. Neither was Thema.

    • Mel Lissa But they were not debarred from competing.

    • He didn’t say she was debarred.. he said ” at some point Ms Dick wasn’t allow to participate either due to pictures that surfaced”
      meaning that she, like Thema was before the disciplinary committee

    • Jeremy Francis ok my fault wording. There was speculations that she may not be allowed too! And how on earth did she know she was gonna participate. As an athlete you are always prepared.

    • Prince Borde …because the board always wanted her. From day 1. And they got their wish- by the hook or the crook. In this case, both apparently.

    • Prince Does being always prepared mean having your plane ticket in hand in advance. ????

    • Islaw can you prove that she had her ticket in hand? Because if you can’t that’s just slander. Jeremy we all suspected the board wanted her but you still haven’t answered the question …. by hook or crook is a generalisation that will not stand up in court lol. If the insinuation is that she knew this was going down then there would have to be a) confirmation of having purchased a ticket to Rio beforehand and proof that the coach was in on it …which based on his defensiveness seems inconclusive … I’m not sure why would they wait the day before? Cover expenses to get her to this point …. breach protocols involving pulling an athlete from competing on medical grounds ….. does that sound well orchestrated?

    • for someone to say its a cut throat world and implying that she was the one selected to go to the Test ..is all there is to on stating that she was in on it……also parading and even giving interviews in Canada like she was already chosen to go to rio for the test!!! come on people don’t do shit like that unless they know they already in!!………Miss Dick is Much to blame in this shit!

    • Malik lots of things can be proven. Slander where? Hence all I asked is for the TTGF to post when her tickets were book. And I want proof. Nothing is secret anymore. I’m just waiting for the other shoes to drop. ?????.

    • I want the proof to …no arguments there …..I just prefer the proof before making my statements.

    • Why was the Ministry of Sports providing funding to Ms. Dick up to last week if Thema was the selected candidate…. As I said. All elements of a plan has to fit together for it to work….

    • Malik Johnson I scrolled through my entire activity log just to find this post. ????. You were saying something about proving Marisa had her ticket in hand. ?. As I said before all I want to see is when that ticket was booked…. Now real proof will be coming out. Cause you cannot be on a flight at 9pm when the decision was made at 12:30 midnight!!! #JustSaying.
      It’s time for everything to unravel. And yes there’s proof. ??

    • Well Islaw Woods I feel honored that you searched for me lol. Yes it does seem to me that a conspiracy was at hand. Personally my stance on Marissa has changed with everything now coming to the fore. The “public” doesn’t want this young woman to represent us that’s clear ….. the backlash wouldn’t be cool …the manner in which Thema was removed and how this thing was cooked up leaves a really bad taste in my mouth …. I’m not in support of Marissa ……. if Thema doesn’t go then I’d rather no one go. Marissa Dick isn’t like Chris Birchall …. this teems with self interest on the part of individuals given too much power in the gymnastics fraternity.

  11. I’m sorry. I can’t feel jubilant for Marissa Dick. Cause I believe she or her mother was in on the displacement of Thema from the beginning. Everything fell into place a little too neatly and the timing to organize that last minute arrangement is suspicious. But congrats still. ??. God don’t like ugly tho. #TeamThema ???

  12. Oh well, our 2nd best will represent TNT! At least we will be represented!!

  13. I dont feel celebatory… Sad but true

  14. I wish her well and hope she brings home a medal as I know both she and Thema are both stars and love this country.

  15. ..The board eh goin nowhere. Sorry. Like WICB..

  16. Congrats. The board needs to go.

  17. Congratulations and best of luck to Marisa

  18. ..LOLOLOLOL. She arrived at her qualification fraudulently, on the back of Williams who beat her out in local qualifying, and!pushed by an elitist, biased board, and all of that is lost as soon as Dick qualifies. Trinis so easily lose sight of what is at stake..

  19. It is no feat! Furthermore, what they mean by “rather than nobody there”? Oh please, TTGF stole the spot from the rightful athlete and they did it just as they usually do things. They don’t care, they are bulls in a china shop and they do what they want as they are accountable to no one. TTGF council is an absolute failure and a disgrace to Trinidad and Tobago. As for Ms. Dick, I hope that her qualifying feels good since it was done at the expense of her team mate…. Tonya Harding all over again

  20. ^^ the athlete couldnt fall. lol
    which, if you read the coach’s comments….

    • Speak to two or three gymnastics persons and they say different things about how many spots there are and how many people don’t qualify.
      So I don’t know that people can say with certainty that it was a shoe-in.

  21. Question: is qualification weighted in favor of the usual country teams? Because I’m having a discomfort with other countries only being allowed one competitor. Why limit other countries?

  22. That is indeed an amazing achievement by Marisa, which should be a proud one for Trinidad and Tobago. Many have forgot she earned this country’s highest world ranking in gymnastics in 2013 (50).
    It’s unfortunate that the circumstances surrounding this qualification were so insidious and nasty. And we’ll never know if Thema would have done the same. However, Marisa’s historic qualification by no means should indicate that the status quo in gymnastics should remain the same. Still a lot to fixed there.

  23. It was NO extraordinary feat. It was part of a carefully and deceitfully executed conspiracy against Thema and the rest of Trinidad and Tobago (TTO).
    ALL Ms. Dick had to do was appear at the session and complete it.
    The spot belonged to the TTO athlete whose name appeared on the list at 5 pm yesterday and who completed the exercise today.

    TTGF MUST GO!!!!!

  24. yeah Kevan Gibbs. that kindah surprising.

  25. ..Always kills me how easily Trinis cool off. LOL. Guess that petition is moot now? LOL..

  26. Best of luck to Marisa at the Olympics… But I hope that Thema and her legal team drag the TTGF over the coals for breach of contract.

  27. I honestly don’t care anymore.

  28. I’ve mixed feelings. I’m happy T&T qualified, but, I’m NOT happy with how it was undertaken. I don’t wish Marisa any ill will, because she’s a child, a gifted athlete, and is representing our people. Like Thema , she is not above the stress of this entire fiasco. However, I question her ethics, and that of her camp.

  29. curiously enough…the wikipedia page with the qualifiers for Rio has been edited SEVERAL TIMES in the last few hours…hmmmm

  30. So the scores was so low in the tournament even the organisers spoke of it lol….

  31. I prefer our athletes ‘earn’ history.

  32. TTGF board needs to resign immediately… No one should be subjected to the mental torture and anxiety they have inflicted on these young girls, let alone elite athletes who have dedicated their lives to sport.

  33. no offence to anyone my opinion she represented Trinidad and Tobago proudly and congrats to this young lady.

  34. exactly.
    that road trip to Rio would have drained me—and i would not have had to do backflips on an 4 inch wide beam.

  35. What exactly does this mean in the first instance !!!???

  36. Congrats to her …because if this isn’t a pressure cooker then I don’t know what is.

  37. look…this is a done deal.
    game•set•match
    whatever happened, the athlete in the Team TTO kit is Dick, Marissa.
    what we gotta do is find the rest of a team so that come #Tokyo2020 we have a TEAM slot and not an INDIVIDUAL slot.
    Four years TTGF…you on the clock.
    GO!

  38. I don’t know how to feel about this. The dissonance is real.

  39. the thoughts coming out from what i’ve read about the Rio test event is that anybody who didn’t completely *@##$@ it up was in.
    Nevertheless, congratulations to Miss Dick #TeamTTO

  40. Congrats to Marisa Dick on her performance. I feel bad for both athletes caught up in the administrative blunders. I don’t think Thema’s coach did her any favours with his “report”. And given that time was of the essence I’m not surprised by the turn of events. But again congrats to Marisa.

  41. Best of luck to her! (Focus and don’t post any nonsense on social media!)

  42. So the Federation did good by choosing her over Thema!!