Home / Rio 2016 / And STILL the champion… Thema gets rousing welcome on return from Rio

And STILL the champion… Thema gets rousing welcome on return from Rio

Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams returned from Brazil to a rousing welcome this morning, as over 200 persons waited until after midnight to greet the 20 year old athlete at the Piarco International Airport.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (right) is welcomed home from Rio by her godmother and entertainer Nikki Crosby at the Piarco International Airport on Wednesday 20 April 2016. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (right) is welcomed home from Rio by her godmother and entertainer Nikki Crosby at the Piarco International Airport on Wednesday 20 April 2016.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Williams’ godmother, Nikki Crosby, had a surprise waiting. As the former Tots and Tumblers gymnast and St Joseph’s Convent (Port of Spain) student stepped through the doors at the arrival lounge, 2016 International Soca Monarch champion, Aaron “Voice” St Louis, was waiting to serenade her with his smash hit, “Cheers to Life.”

“From you wake up this morning, you’s a winner…”

Then, to Dwayne Bravo’s “Champion”, Williams and Crosby danced between the Moko Jumbies that her godmother brought for the occasion, to loud cheers from the enthusiastic crowd.

Williams’ weekend might have felt like a nightmare, as she woke up on Saturday to discover from her mother, Helen Adams, that Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) president David Marquez had controversially withdrawn her from the Rio 2016 Olympic Test event.

And, on Sunday, alternate Marisa Dick competed in her place and created history by qualifying for the Rio Olympic Games.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) is serenaded by 2016 International Soca Monarch Aaron “Voice” St Louis at the Piarco International Airport on her return from Rio welcomed home from Rio on Wednesday 20 April 2016. Looking on are Williams' parents, Leon Williams (right) and Helen Adams (second from left). (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) is serenaded by 2016 International Soca Monarch Aaron “Voice” St Louis at the Piarco International Airport on her return from Rio welcomed home from Rio on Wednesday 20 April 2016.
Looking on are Williams’ parents, Leon Williams (right) and Helen Adams (second from left).
(Courtesy Wired868)

Neither Marquez nor any member of his executive were at the airport to greet Williams while there was no sight of TTGF second vice-president Ricardo Lue Shue, who should have taken the same flight after acting as Dick’s coach in Rio.

Sport Minister Darryl Smith, who has vowed to resist any petition to stop funding the TTGF, did not show up either.

But this morning was not about them.

Williams sported a broad, contagious smile throughout as she hugged relatives, friends and strangers alike and posed for dozens of photographs.

She spoke briefly to the media too but declined comment on her traumatic, ill-fated attempt to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the Olympics.

Instead, she shared fond memories of Brazil and expressed gratitude that so many people came out to welcome her home.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) hugs relatives as she is welcomed home from Rio by her fans at the Piarco International Airport on Wednesday 20 April 2016. (Courtesy Lou-Ann Sankar/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) hugs relatives as she is welcomed home from Rio by her fans at the Piarco International Airport on Wednesday 20 April 2016.
(Courtesy Lou-Ann Sankar/Wired868)

The eclectic audience included ex-Minister Verna St Greaves, actress Penelope Spencer, sport agent Narada Wilson, authors Rhoda Bharath and Timothy Nokio, and, as always, flagman Joey “Posh” Richardson.

It was not until 1 am that smiling supporters began to head for their parked vehicles.

Gymnastics was a source of joy again for roughly an hour. Although it might prove to be the calm before the storm.

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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78 comments

    • I may assume that you were not informed of the resignation of members of the ttgf and the flawed processes over the years. This athlete has caused the country to unite and not sit back and allow the madness to continue. Many may say Martin Luther, Gandhi and even Pele’s (Pele’s law) fight may not have benefited them but it sure as hell helped fix broken systems. So champion of fixing a broken federation.

  1. Nepotism in sports…smh. You will succeed Thema…champion#

  2. And this fcuking Ramesh fighting fuh the board or whatever dey is…anyway I had already lost respect fuh he BS-terrrrr

  3. I cried when I saw the welcome home celebration for her. Still a champion

  4. Thema you got my support proud of you, keep on keeping on Thanks to Nenny Nikki.

  5. Keep focussed & don’t be deterred. Your prize will always be there!

  6. Here’s some more info that seems to be overlooked. Marisa and Themay have competed head to head three times in their career: the 2014 Pan American Championships, the 2015 World Championships and the 2016 World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA) Classic. Marisa beat Themay in two of those three events.

    Additionally, if you look at their average all-around scores for their five most recent competitions, the numbers look like this: Marisa: 50.7298; Thema: 49.333. (Sources: https://thegymter.net/thema-williams/, https://thegymter.net/marisa-dick/)

    Folks, is there a possibility that perhaps Marisa is simply a BETTER gymnast than Thema? And that if you accept the premise that Trinidad and Tobago should send its best eligible gymnast to the Games, then perhaps things worked out for the best?

    Again, please, let’s stick to facts in this discussion.

    • Lasana Liburd

      Maybe you don’t understand sport. Or you don’t understand the qualifying process here.
      Sport is about who is better on the day. Nothing else matters.
      Chelsea may have defeated Barcelona just once in 10 tries. Ecuador might not beat the Trinidad and Tobago women’s football team again if they tried. It is irrelevant.
      The qualification process was in Glasgow. Thema won. She qualified. Whoever you think is better doesn’t matter. That isn’t how sport is run.

      • I understand sport at an extremely high level, rest assured. But you clearly have let other biases cloud your judgment. You are absolutely correct: Thema earned the right to compete in the Rio test event. No one disputes that.

        But what you, and others of your ilk, can’t seem to let go of is this: HER COACH SAID SHE WAS HURT. HER COACH SAID HER TRAINING WAS TERRIBLE. HER COACH ASKED HER TO WITHDRAW. What is so difficult to grasp about this??? If Thema had been healthy? We’re not having this discussion, are we?

        My point in raising their past head-to-head performances was to indicate that perhaps there wasn’t anything sinister at play here. The federation, having given Thema every chance to prove herself during training in Rio, decided that a healthy Marisa — who, on average, had historically performed better than Thema — was a better option than an injured Thema to earn an Olympic berth.

        Honestly, ask yourself — do you think that if the federation had wanted Marisa there all along that it would have let Thema travel to Rio in the first place? Give your head a shake. I think it’s you who needs to develop an understanding of high-performance sport.

  7. Dors marquez live in tribidad?

  8. Ship every one of the ttgf to canada. Wait canada does not want them

  9. I love the welcome party and appreciation shown.

  10. This situation is hurtful. And I feel helpless because despite everyone knowing this young lady was wronged, I’m not sure we can change anything at the Olympic level.

    • The TTOC has the choice not to send Marisa. Thema lawyers could argue breach of contract… Which was breached as TTGF requires a medical report to pull Thema… It reminds to be seen what they will do. I personally hope that they make a stand against this level of corruption and not send her FWD. Although, it’s the first Olympic gymnast for TnT, it will forever be tainted with lack of integrity, dishonesty and ruthless sportsmanship … There should be consequences to these actions.

    • Here’s my thoughts – even if Marissa does well her effort will be tainted with her involvement in this blasphemy. I don’t think she’s that young and so innocent to not know what’s up. I think she only cares about herself.

  11. OK, it’s time for a reality check — for all of you. As an outsider looking in, this whole business has been both fascinating and disturbing to observe. Let’s get one simple fact out there immediately: to suggest that Thema was a medal hopeful in Rio (or Marisa, for that matter) is LUDICROUS. And both girls would be the first to admit it. They’re on a different level (sorry, a much lower one) than the group of athletes who will be on the podium. The BEST-case scenario for either one of them would be a top-50 finish in the all-around. Event finals? Not a chance. Sorry. Those are the facts. So, let’s keep that in mind.

    What’s more disturbing has been the complete and utter pettiness and naiveté that is being shown by all parties (except for, it should be noted, the athletes themselves). This is doing your country a massive disservice, I have to say. The racism (let’s face facts) has been cringe-worthy. So, too, has the lack of competency in administration (I’m looking at you, Brian Lewis — what major country would allow its Olympic Committee president to tweet misinformation, and fan the flames with rhetoric and falsehoods from both his personal account and that of the Olympic Committee? The answer: none. You are laughable, sir) and journalism (I’m looking at you, Lasana Liburd — your coverage has been blatantly biased from Day 1; you should be ashamed of yourself).

    Again, as an outsider looking in, with no biases towards either athlete, here’s how it looks from afar:

    — Respected coach sends report back home about injured athlete not performing well in training.
    — Gymnastics federation gives the athlete every chance to perform in Rio, but with the string of negative training reports from the coach, decides at the last possible minute (based on travel times) to call in the alternate. Even then, the decision to withdraw Thema wouldn’t have had to be made. But if you DO make that decision, the alternate better be available.
    — The decision is made by the federation to withdraw Thema because of those reports from the coach, and the coach and athlete are informed.
    — The alternate makes it to Rio in time (barely) and performs heroically to give Trinidad and Tobago its first gymnastics berth in the Olympics
    — Despite that heroic performance on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago, the athlete is ripped to shreds.

    Listen, I know you’ll say I don’t know the facts. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. I’m just telling all of you how it looks from afar. And I’d like to think your country is better than this.

    • unfortunately, sir.,,

      you have not reported the facts….
      your version of the “facts”, makes Thema’s coach a liar …
      secondly, you left out some key facts.
      (1) Thema was not injured, she was sore…
      (2) Marisa Dick is actually injured and it is ridiculous to call in an injured person to replace a person who is sore from training.
      (3) You an get medial records to back up what I said in (1) and (2) .
      (4) The TTGF is not authorized to make medical decisions based on a coach’s daily logs.

      yes they decision was made based on training logs, not an actual report.

  12. Well done Nikki we support you all the way you a champion in my book we love you ok

  13. Glad to see there are people who remember how to pay true homage to those who represent us. Trini to de bone.

  14. all who vote PNM —

    allyuh idiots voted for this ….

    this would never happen under the PP/UNC …
    they would never sit easily in government and watch this happen …

    but watch as the PNM minster, does nothing and completely support his friends in the TTGF

  15. I wonder if Thema is being victimized for her relationship with Niki Crosbie ?
    After all, the PNM spied illegally on Niki, because they viewed her commentary and work as anti-PNM ..
    the PNM also victimized Carla Antoine Browne , because of her mother’s criticism of the PNM ..

    could it be that Niki’s god daughter is being victimized by the PNM ..

    the PNM through the actions of their Minister , are fully complicit in this action against Thema ..

  16. what was Mrs. Barath doing their ? should she not be supporting “her” Minster of sport ?

  17. Keep breathing fire Thema!
    You are a force to be reckoned with.
    I wanna be like you when I grow up. ..& I’m 37. Lol

  18. Tears came to my eyes when I saw this nikky you have divine love from the father keep that sis and to you our champion don’t let nothing keep you down girl go for Gold love and strenght

  19. Well done Nikki! We support u Thema !!!

  20. This has turned into one ugly fiasco. But don’t think that this is confined to TnT; if you are “lucky” you will come to know the questionable machinations involved in first world sporting bodies. Dick is a “true trini” getting bumped to the front of the line (or free entry/drinks or an HDC house or a quickie passport or a Government contract etc) because of who favours her.

  21. Beautiful inside and out. A true winner and champion. God doh sleep. I’m sure Thema will prevail. Very disrespectful that no one from the sports ministry or sportt could have seen it fit to welcome her home and shown some tangible support. Darryl Smith is particularly disappointing. He might appear smiling and affable but below that veneer seems to lie the true politician. Anyway this time is all about Thema and the graceful poised “Convent girl” that we have come to admire. To Trinidad and Tobago she is already a winner!

  22. Thema awed me into silence this morning …… Cannot fathom how one so young can be so poised and gracious in the face of such adversity …. from whence cometh such strength of character … Kudos to her support system …..

  23. Airport would have been a real mess had she come in much earlier.

  24. The seemingly conspiracy to deny this young woman her dream is appalling

  25. I love you my Country sweet T&T you make us proud Thema Williams

  26. This is awesome. Thanks for sharing Lasana. This entire fiasco reminds me of the Old Testament story about Jacob and his older brother Esau. Their father Isaac, who was blind, was about to bless Esau, his first born son. However, Jacob and his mother Rebekah implemented a scheme to steal Esau’s inheritance. Jacob put on Esau’s clothes and placed faked hair on his skin to trick his blind father into believing that he was Esau. Isaac, who was about to die, and believing that he was giving Esau his due inheritance, went about blessing the pretender Jacob. Esau returned to his father expecting his due inheritance only to learn that his brother had stolen it. And the rest as they say is history. More about the story below.

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+27&version=NLT

  27. Yes!!!!! This touched me heart.

  28. It is still beyond my imagination. How could a man (supposedly) and I refer to the heartless corrupted conniving being DAVID MARQUEZ, President of TTGF, how could he deliberately,deny a young athlete the opportunity and privilege she earned to represent her country and still maintain his position in the TTGF, likewise his VP Richardo Lue Shue. The likes of these shameless people have no place in any sports administration body…DAVID MARQUEZ, RICARDO LUE DHUE and company, please go, and you know to where.

  29. Ofcourse true Trinis will love her???

  30. A lot of class and poise. Especially at that young age…

  31. Why is she so mum on the issue ? Legal advice ?

  32. This is nice, I’m happy Nikki and others organized this for her. Where do we go from here?

  33. Quiet before the storm is right!! Since the rightful person was robbed of her legitimate place, then no one must go to Rio 2016 and a strong and powerful message MUST be sent to those who partook (and who might intend on partaking in such in the future) in surreptitiously questionable behaviour that it WILL NOT be tolerated. And yes that means watching the 18year old Marisa Dick in her face and telling her that she SHALL NOT be going to Rio either.

    • Earl Best

      In a society built on principle, many toes get crushed – including 18-year-old ones. I couldn’t agree more.

      • I certainly hope there’s some degree of sarcasm in your statement, bcuz in a society that has historically, regularly absconds principle, I often wonder which principles exactly was this society predicated & built on, & whether any of them still really apply. Until such time that we all TRULY acknowledge that we (yes I say WE) are a SICK society, full of hypocrites & liars, & getting progressively sicker, we eh going nowhere with all dis. Things like these have been MUCH TOO regularly, systematically occurring in SEVERAL spheres of this “principled society”. It’s just that this twisted instance happened in full public glare, so more of us care or APPEAR to care. Generally though, most, if not all of us, KNOW of some similar instance(s) or other in this “principled” society, but many times bcuz it’s not a public issue, many of us don’t give a rat’s ass…& even if & when it’s public, for the most part it’s given the “9 day treatment” by most of us. Let me quote & share below, a comment I have since left several times now, under several different Facebook postings about this obscene debacle…

        “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”.