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.
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mother, Helen Adams, that Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) president David Marquez had controversially withdrawn her from the Rio 2016 Olympic Test event.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.
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.
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.