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The Great Training Robbery: TTOC sent wrong message to young athletes

Columnist Earl Best says Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) boss Brian Lewis made a ‘white-collar’ decision in selecting Marisa Dick for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games:

Dear Brian,

I don’t know what your experience has been but I know from my own experience that there are times when you have to cut off your nose so as NOT to spoil your face. In my considered view, for the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, ergo, for Trinidad and Tobago sport, the morning of 2 May 2016 was such a time.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis (far left) and games committee members (from right) Dr Terrence Ali, Ian Hypolite and Diane Henderson announce their decision to select gymnast Marisa Dick on their contingent for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on 2 May 2016. Missing from the photograph is games committee member Annette Knott who was abroad. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis (far left) and games committee members (from right) Dr Terrence Ali, Ian Hypolite and Diane Henderson announce their decision to select gymnast Marisa Dick on their contingent for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on 2 May 2016.
Missing from the photograph is games committee member Annette Knott who was abroad.
(Courtesy Wired868)

But you, Brian, and the members of your TTOC management committee did not get that memo!

As a result, you have contrived to send completely the wrong message directly to two young gymnasts and, more importantly, indirectly to dozens—maybe scores, of others—hoping to follow in their footsteps. Rest assured that you have won the respect and admiration of all right-thinking people in T&T; Facebook is resoundingly on your side. Congratulations!

KFC Munch Pack

However, let me alert you, Brian, to a comment posted by one Charles Wax on one of the many Wired868 stories on this saga involving the two young ladies and the TTGF and the FIG, the national and international associations respectively which govern their sport.

Wax asks rhetorically whether “making history is more important than principle and integrity” and opines that “the president of the TTOC (…) had the perfect opportunity to rise above this debacle and come out on the right side of the story.”

“(He) should have taken the high road on this,” Wax continues, “chastising the TTGF for breach of their procedures , (…) and due to principle (…)  should have opted not to send any gymnist (sic) (to Rio) until they have gotten their affairs in order.”

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 Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)
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 Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)

Frankly Brian, like Wax, I don’t give a FIG for the TTGF’s commitment to principle or for TTOC’s declared position and I certainly don’t think your TTOC came out on the side of right. For me, the Olympic ideals require that the TTOC come down unequivocally on the side of what is fair and let the chips fall where they may.

You must have been aware that much of the public comment on this issue has been coloured by the conviction that what mattered in this whole issue was not so much what is fair and what is not but who is fair and who is not.

That is probably why, in the preamble to your announcement of your decision on Monday, some form of the word “fair” occurs no fewer than nine times, either as adjective (5), as noun (3) or as adverb (1). And your surprising announcement having been made, you added a tenth, referring to “the International Olympic Committee’s code of ethics” and the duty it imposes on all “to be fair.”

However, in spite of the lip service you and the TTOC paid to fairness in your statement, in the end it was not “fair,” I submit, but “fear” that had the last word.

Perhaps, in order to put the TTOC decision into perspective, we should properly go back to the beginning of this sorry tale.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Thema Williams (right) and Marisa Dick pose for a photograph while sightseeing in Rio, after the Olympic Test event on 17 April 2016. (Courtesy Hannifer Dick)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Thema Williams (right) and Marisa Dick pose for a photograph while sightseeing in Rio, after the Olympic Test event on 17 April 2016.
(Courtesy Hannifer Dick)

Born in Trinidad in December of 1995, Thema Williams did not see Hasely Crawford win 100m gold in Montreal in 1976 or Gally Cummings’ Strike Squad lose 1-0 to the USA on Paul Caligiuri’s 31st minute goal at the National Stadium in Mucurapo in 1989. Or Brian Charles Lara break Gary Sobers’ world record with his 375 in Antigua in 1994 either.

Had she done so, she might have opted to become a sprinter, a footballer or a cricketer.

She did see Dennis Lawrence’s headed goal in Bahrain that almost wiped away the stain of November 1989 because it took T&T to the 2006 World Cup in Germany. And when Lara damblayed his amazing feat to reclaim his record in April of 2004, she was old enough to be a part of the celebration and be influenced in her choice of career.

But by then it was too late. Williams was approaching nine and had already selected her career path. She was going, she told herself, to do whatever it took to become a high-level gymnast and see the Red, White and Black one day represented in that sport at the Olympics.

And she did, Brian, consistently, unrelentingly, until April 2016 when the TTGF rewarded her for her years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice by sticking a long knife in her back…

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)

Meanwhile, in May of 1997, somewhere up in Canada—British Columbia to be precise—Hannifer Dick, a Trinidadian emigrée who had reportedly nurtured a desire to be a world-beating gymnast, gave birth to Marisa Roseanne Dick. The Toronto Raptors would emerge later as a force but Wayne Gretzky was already at the height of his considerable powers.

Still, perhaps unsurprisingly, little Marisa’s gymnastic exploits began before she was three, Hannifer having enrolled her daughter in the Parent and Tots programme at St Albert Gymnastics Club in St Albert, Canada so that she could make her elusive dream come true.

But lest ignorance leads to misrepresentation of the facts, Brian, here is what Ms Dick’s (presumably approved) biography in the National Sporting Archives says:

Dick has worked her way through the Canadian Artistic Gymnastics programme and is currently competing at the National Open Senior Level.

(…) Dick’s goal has always been to make it to the Olympics. (…) It is Dick’s belief that competing for Trinidad and Tobago will help her achieve her goals as well as assisting the country to develop and promote its gymnastics programme.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymast Marisa Dick. (Copyright Christy Ann Linder)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymast Marisa Dick.
(Copyright Christy Ann Linder)

Although the entry is silent on her reaction to Hasely, Gally, Lara and Lawrence, it is a safe bet that she knows Keshorn Walcott, whose London Javelin gold medal was won in August 2012. That was mere months after she had tried out—unsuccessfully!–for the Canadian gymnastics team and, the Archives entry confirms, “in May 2012, competed at the Trinidad and Tobago National Championships in Port-of-Spain.”

At the Commonwealth Invitational Scotland in April 2014, Dick eventually won the country’s first ever international gymnastics medals with a silver on the beam and a bronze in the vault. She was on course for if not a medal in Rio, at least a not-to-be-sneezed-at appearance…

Meanwhile back in T&T, the older, unheralded Williams had continued, unnoticed, to work her butt off in Tots and Tumblers, chasing her dream of an Olympics appearance. Rio beckoned.

Proving good enough to be offered a full scholarship to Michigan State University, Williams turned it down in favour of the expert attention she could get by joining US National Coach John Geddert’s Twistars Gymnastics Club in Michigan.

There being just one place offered to T&T for Rio 2016, things had one day to come to a head. They did when Rio qualifying began.

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)

So the TTGF’s executive committee, comprising current president David Marquez, his predecessor Ricardo Lue Shue—listed on the website of the international federation, mind you, as Dick’s assistant coach—secretary Elicia Peters-Charles and assistant treasurer Donna Lue Shue, put their heads together and decided to send both ladies to the Rio qualifier in Glasgow and said: “May the better woman win!”

They summoned the two gymnasts along with their parents and told them that whoever placed higher in Glasgow would represent the country at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. All parties signed on the dotted line.

And then, Brian, boom! Williams had the audacity to finish in 59th place, full 18 above Dick and torpedo the carefully laid plans.

Can you imagine what would have happened if the Shue, oops, shoe had been on the Williams foot or if she had been born in Canada and Dick born here? Or if Williams had declared that she was Trini on the floor but American at heart?

In all likelihood, Brian, that would have been the end of the story.

What happened, however, was that gymnastics gave way to skiing, the zigzagging of the slalom and the rapid downhill descent. In Dick’s words, it became “cutthroat time,” which she found “exciting.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick (right) and her mother Hannifer Dick (centre) look on at a local gymnastics meet at the Tacarigua Indoor Sporting Facility on 23 April 2016. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick (right) and her mother Hannifer Dick (centre) look on at a local gymnastics meet at the Tacarigua Indoor Sporting Facility on 23 April 2016.
(Courtesy Wired868)

But although the long knives were in the hands of the TTGF, the senior Dick complained, nobody was using them to cut the upstart Williams out of the picture.

Finally sent–reluctantly?–to Rio to realise her dream and cement her Olympics place in the April test event, in the warm-ups, Williams raised suspicions that she was not 100%. Having had the foresight to tell Dick to stand by just in case, the TTGF withdrew her almost literally at the eleventh hour and replaced her with the ready-and-raring-to-go Dick.

It is, I submit, of interest that the athlete’s contract stipulated that any withdrawal for medical reasons had to be preceded by consultation with a doctor; however, that little detail certainly did not seem to detain the TTGF crew.

No more apparently, Brian, than it genuinely interested you and your TTOC committee. Once the FIG said, you explained, that Williams had been properly replaced by Dick and had earned “a nominative place” in Rio, you had no choice.

Lappe, Brian, does make he own track while gouti does wait fuh yuh to make track fuh he. As Wax noted, you did have a choice. But you would have had to have the cojones to take a principled stand against what you suspected was wrong instead of for what you were told was right, to choose tomorrow ahead of today.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Marisa Dick (right) wave to the crowd during the Opening Ceremony of the Toronto 2015 Pan-American Games at Rogers Stadium, Toronto on July 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Marisa Dick (right) wave to the crowd during the Opening Ceremony of the Toronto 2015 Pan-American Games at Rogers Stadium, Toronto on July 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Didn’t Prime Minister ANR Robinson decide to defy Abu Bakr’s gunmen and order the army to “attack with full force?”

Didn’t mutineers Raffique Shah and Rex Lassalle defy Karl Hudson-Phillips and the whole establishment by entering a plea of “condonation” when their guilt was as clear as day?

But you didn’t fancy the macho option; goutis never do. You chose flight rather than fight, emulating Justice Clebert Brooks, who opted not to invent jurisprudence and declare Abu Bakr’s amnesty valid.

Scotland Yard ensured that the large group of men who robbed the train that left Glasgow in 1963 earned eternal notoriety for their crimes. Keith Scotland will probably not have quite the same luck with the small group that rewarded with a stab in the back the 12 years of training that took Thema to Glasgow in 2015 but not beyond.

But because the upholder is worse than the thief, because your pusillanimity helped whitewash their deliberate plotting and scheming, you, Brian, will earn an eternally ignominious place…

… in T&T sport’s black books.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis (left) with a delegate at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. (Courtesy TTOC)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis (left) with a delegate at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
(Courtesy TTOC)

Yours in sport,

Earl Best.

Editor’s Note: The TTOC games management committee, which was responsible for the decision to send Marisa Dick to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, comprises Annette Knott, Ian Hypolite, Diane Henderson and Dr Terrence Ali. They were advised legally by Elton Prescott SC and Dave Williams, attorney at law.

Click HERE to read the TTOC’s explanation for its choice of Marisa Dick.

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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  1. Excuse me Lasana Liburd, I have a much bigger personal issue to deal with right now, my mum is ill. Thanks.

  2. Thema lost twice her chance to represent TT in Rio and giving up a scholarship to pursue her dream

  3. .. just wondering aloud though if it was Thema Sabga…

  4. Good analogy Erline Andrews.. you missed out an important part though… Marissa failed to qualify, she knows now she is the alternate, but she cries bringing anguish to her mother.. I’m assuming she lives with her mother, so she had to be AWARE her mom and Lueshues/TTGF et al were engaged in an underhand plot to have Thema replaced.. ok she got a call so she had to respond.. so we go back to your analogy… when she reached the finish line when all dealings and non-adherence to policies were exposed, she must have realised that the plot worked.. and with her reported statements “its cut-throat time” ?.. smh

    • So you’re saying you think Marisa shares responsibility for what happened to Thema. Marisa qualified btw. Both her and Thema qualified to do the Olympic test

    • When I say failed to qualify I mean take top spot, cause it seems the reason TTGF used the worlds’ as their ONLY qualifying event, they felt Marissa would have easily beaten Thema.. But I’m really on morals and integrity here… she was aware there was a conspiracy to get rid of Thema, and at the end she must clearly realise she got the spot through underhand moves… let’s simply say she didn’t hire the hitman but she knew a hit was out on Thema with intent to her benefit…

    • Loris Adams As I said, you think she shares responsibility. But as Gerard said, there is no real evidence of that.

    • Never wrote that or anything close to, so you deduce that all by yourself.. eg: – one girl ‘A’ and another ‘B’ is hoping to win husband ‘X’.. A overhears her brothers planning to kill girl B.. (they never consulted with A btw)… B is killed and A realises her brothers had a hand in it. A can now get married to X.. Maybe you’ll consider A responisble for B’s death, but that’s not my position… this is an issue of morality, integrity and conscience for Marissa..

    • Loris Adams If she knows they were planning to commit a crime and she did nothing to stop it she is culpable.

    • Not so sure if that is the correct word… think culpable means committing an act but without intention of the end result… and would mean she is guilty as the co-conspirators.. she just didn’t act, didn’t take part physically.. (maybe she wasn’t sure they were serious).. but at the end she could put 2 and 2 together and know what really happened… and that’s where my concerns start.. what she did at the end.. is there a moral bone in her body?

  5. Unfortunately Ms. Dick is the first and only athlete from our olympic contigent who will not have my support in Rio. I hope Thema Williams is successful in her future endevours.

  6. Brian Manning – that one man is the leader of the TTOC. If his views and opinions were in direct conflict with that of the other members of his committee then he should have taken the moral high road and resign from the TTOC. Brian Lewis deserve all that is coming his way, because he had failed to stand for what is right and just.

    • Just a minute.. are you suggesting that he should have executed a “presidential veto”? Overrule the findings of the committe with the legal authority to make the decision — a committee of which he is not a member — and stomp on good governance principles, and the highest levels of accountability and transparency? Brian Lewis has used his office to champion good governance, and TTOC resources to teach NSOs what that means and how it should be carried out. Where would his credibility be today if he went against everything he has been championing all this time?

    • Miss Jessie -May Ventour when something is wrong , it is wrong .Robin Hood robbing and giving to the poor ,He is still a thief , So no covered up can make it right ,There people on that same committee get what they want ,

    • Jessie-May Ventour – All I will say is that Brian is the leader of the TTOC. As head of that organization he wheels tremendous influence. He doesn’t need to sit on the committee to exercise a vote or veto. If he couldn’t influence that committee to make what most would consider an obvious and easy decision i.e. Thelma or no TTGF representation at the upcoming Olympics – then he doesn’t deserve to remain at the helm of the TTOC. For it means he doesn’t command the support of the organization.

      • Jesse-May, Carlos overstates the case, of course, but his essential point is valid, I think. Moral authority. Moral suasion. If Brian were CONVINCED of the wrongness of the decision, he would have attempted to persuade the management committee that they had erred. Failing that, does he have any real option but to resign or publicly dissociate himself from the decision? Having done neither, he has taken public responsibility for a decision he knows is wrong and must therefore live with the consequences of his action. Or inaction.

        But in T&T, people shun the moral high ground but want to be seen as leaders. Misleaders and cheerleaders are, as far as I am concerned, the best they can hope for.

  7. The ONLY basis upon which I would agree that Marisa ought to be debarred from competing at Rio 2016 is if she were found to be personally culpable or complicit in any perverse decision to withdraw Thema. Despite all the emotive assumptions of some folks, that has certainly not been established.

    • I’m hoping none of the people commenting on this are in positions to make serious decisions about people’s lives. :/

      • Too late! Since talk is cheap, the people merely commenting threaten no one; the people ACTING have already trampled on 20 years of work – and arguably ruined a life into the bargain.

    • Sigh. I can’t explain again that if the procedure to remove Thema Williams was found to be flawed, then the TTOC would have been obliged not to send Marisa Dick to the Olympics. In spite the fact that she did no wrong.
      If you still can’t grasp that Gerard, you probably never will.

    • It might help if you can point to something similar that happened before in sports, Lasana. I had tried to make a comparison to Steve Harvey’s mix up at the Miss Universe. But in that case the crown was taken away from the person it was given to mistakenly and given to the rightful winner. In this case it would just be punishing Marisa with no benefit being transferred to Thema. I can’t see how that would make sense or be fair.

    • A doping case sometimes involved one cheats and three honest sprinters. The honest sprinters have to give back their medals too although their blood samples are clean. Happened often.
      It isn’t only the disgraced sprinter who has to return medal.

    • Lasana Liburd That example is similar to the Miss Universe one. The medal would rightly be transferred to the team who might have won it if that sprinter wasn’t cheating. I’m asking myself even if it was proven that someone acted to disadvantage Thema on Dick’s behalf without Dick’s knowledge should Dick be punished? Should Tonya Harding have been punished if she wasn’t involved in any way on the attack on Nancy Kerrigan?

    • Let me try another imaginary example. If it was found after a race that the second place finisher was disadvantaged in some way – her shoes were tampered with, something was thrown on her lane to slow her down – should the first place finisher be deprived of her gold medal?

    • Assuming of course the first place finisher had nothing to do with sabotaging the second place finisher.

    • In that case, the entire race should be declared null and void if something was thrown into their lane.

    • Lasana, it’s apparent to me that some folks would rather force fit the limited facts available to match their preconceptions, in some cases based on issues that have nothing to do with the individual case and are deeply ingrained in our society. In doing so, there is no sense in pursuing an argument in favour of unearthing ALL the facts so that a more complete picture can be revealed and the necessary corrective action taken to prevent a recurrence. Gerard out!

    • Kendall Tull But if we stick to the comparison with the Williams/Dick case, let’s assume the race can’t be rerun.

    • I didn’t say that the race should be rerun Erline Andrews.

    • Kendall Tull You’re right. I assumed that’s what you meant. Because then it means you agree the medals should be taken away from the other players. Which frankly kinda shocks me.

    • How can the results of a race stand if there is a deliberate outside attempt to affect the outcome that endangered the athletes? How could allowing that be considered fair and reasonable in any way?

    • Kendall Tull Endangering doesn’t come into it. When I say put something on the lane I mean a chemical or something intended only to slow the athlete down. There have been cases, though, of deliberate or accidental events that threw one competitor in a race off. I don’t think races are declared void in those cases. After balls were found to have been deliberately deflated for an NFL game last year they didn’t throw out the results of the game. Stakes way too high.

    • Where do you draw the line? The next time an athlete is disenfranchised by their association in favour of another, do we say well Marisa was allowed to compete and let it pass? Where do we stop and say to sports administration that they have a duty of care they must exercise and we won’t tolerate their unethical behaviour.

      And I completely reject the argument that to debar Marisa because of the failure to adhere to their policies would result in a ban.

    • Kendall Tull If the association is found to be guilty of wrongdoing they should be suitably punished. The question is whether Marisa – and T&T, because the country would be forfeiting a spot at the Olympics – should be punished as well.

    • Kendall Tull FIFA was found to have been corruptly run. Should the country that was awarded the next World Cup be made to give it up?

    • So Erline Andrews – the fact that Thema was wrongly denied her opportunity means nothing?

      My personal view is that a space in the Olympics won unfairly isn’t something that I want. Your mileage may vary.

    • And yes – the assignment of the World Cup should be redone if there is evidence that the process was tainted. Big money often triumphs over what is right and fair and the world is a poorer place as a result.

    • Kendall Tull Unless it was found that the government of the country was directly involved in twisting the process in their favor, I doubt many people would agree with your position on the World Cup question.

    • It’s not a matter of what is popular, it’s a matter of what is right Erline.

      • Erline Andrews, Kendall correctly points out that it’s “not a matter of what is popular” but “of what is right.” I’m not certain you understand the difference.

        Still, I can, without a moment’s hesitation. name half a dozen people in my circles who think both Russia and Qatar should be stripped and the 2018 and the 2022 decisions reviewed because the process has been shown to be flawed, rigged, if you prefer.

        And none of us thinks the two countries’ putative innocence is a factor.

      • And right from the start, (pun intended) Kendall has made it very clear that that the core issue here is righting a wrong. ALL beneficiaries of that wrong are clearly likely to be affected if and when reparation is made. Get it, ALL. Kendall is neither pro-Thema nor anti-Marisa; he’s in the pro-right anti-wrong camp.

        As am I.

        Where do you stand?

      • Finally, your statement that “The question is whether Marisa – and T&T, because the country would be forfeiting a spot at the Olympics – should be punished as well.”

        You preface that with “If the association is found to be guilty of wrongdoing they should be suitably punished” So here is my question: .If it proves to be true that the TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO Gymnastics Federation did somehow break the rules in replacing Thema with Marisa, is it unfair, unjust, undesirable, unacceptable, immoral (feel free to add to the list) for a TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO gymnast to suffer as a result of an attempt to correct that?

        Maybe that question should properly be put not to you but to the AGF, the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation…

        And the FIG!

    • Kendall Tull I actually don’t think it would be right to take the World Cup away from the country or the Olympic opportunity away from Marisa if neither of them is guilty of wrongdoing. Let the FIFA/TTGF officials be the ones who are punished.

    • But those who were wronged like Thema should just accept being cheated?

      They stole her chance and so I do not accept that Marissa should benefit from that act. Again, your mileage may vary.

    • First, someone does take Marisa’s place. It goes to the girl from Azerbaijan. It’s just unfortunate that Thema doesn’t have a shot.
      But for my pardner Gerard. You talk about limited information. Pray tell what information is missing?
      There is a contract that was either kept or broken. What info do you need to say which it is?
      I bet you can’t say. And you can’t say because you are not being honest and only pretending to be principled and impartial here.
      And it is a very poor pretense.

    • Lasana Liburd, I really don’t give a rat’s ass whether you think I am being honest or if I am “pretending to be principled and impartial”. I have my own views on your own honesty in this matter, but then I don’t really know you personally so I may be wrong. As for me, let those who know me be the judge of my own integrity. I certainly won’t waste any more time debating this issue here.

    • Rat’s ass? Waste time?
      Who am I to argue. When I have something to say, I say it though. I don’t hide.

      • Zatopek, I notice that you are careful to say that you “have my own views on your own honesty IN THIS MATTER” (my emphasis).

        I’d be very surprised if you gave a rat’s ass about what I think but I have to tell you that forced on pain of death to vouch for your honesty over Lasana’s, I’d have to go meet my maker…or his opposite number.

        And I suspect that, among Wired868 readers, I’m far from alone. But that’s not fair; I have known Lasana for many years and I am fortunate enough NOT to be among those who know you. I just know the “principled and impartial” persona you present in this public space.

  8. ‘I and all’s read all the comments on Lauren C Hopkins blog ‘I and all’ read all the comments in this thread and I maintain that Marisa Dick does not belong on TTO 2016.

  9. I and all got got up in the emotions swirling around this issue. Still, the coach, Mr Geddert, seems to be given too much of a pass here.

  10. This kinda thing happens all the time all over the world. Ms Dick is not the one making the decisions to send her. She after all trained hard also and wanted the spot. Look how times players work hard get a football team promoted and are then let go. Smae but different I know. The TTOC is correct in their stance, since the move was not in violation of FIG rules there is little that can be done. What they are going to attempt to do is sanction the TTGf for violation of its own rules.

  11. OJ won his criminal case but lost his civil case. Sometimes the law doesn’t allow you to go to the extent that you would like.
    But again, how is Brian Lewis, who does not sit on the committee that made the decision, to blame for this decision? What was he to do?
    Lead the TTOC into being sanctioned by the IOC for violating constitutional parameters?

  12. Faulty premise. Marisa is not the issue here. It is the TTGF.

    • Never said she was the issue. I said she should not benefit from the TTGF’s actions.

    • Look, She is a Trini athlete. She is a COMPETITOR, ergo she wants to compete, she also worked hard for that spot true she did not place higher than Thema when it mattered the most, But truthfully, if you playing football and a man get dropped becasue the coach eh like dreds and he pick you to the team as a replacement and yuh heading world cup, you turning down the offer?

    • I don’t think that is the comparison here Chandani. It isn’t that the coach didn’t like her and used his prerogative. It is that the TTGF had a contract with Thema and quite possible violated it. That is what we are talking about here.
      On the flipside Kendall, the TTOC’s interpretation seemed to have partly been along the lines of the “Indoor Management Rule.”
      What I took from that is Marisa Dick was entitled to assume that everything was above board when she was called up, since the other stuff wasn’t her duty.
      So she therefore had a legitimate expectation of being allowed to move forward.
      Legal stuff seems to mean always having a plaster for every sore. What you say Fulton?

    • You may not like the comparison but it is valid to the point addressed. Would you drop a competent player because of his dread locks? That is not a coach’s prerogative, that is a coach’s prejudice, same thing. And Lasana Liburd the issue Mr Tull rose had to do with Marisa benefiting, she did not make the decision to pull Thema.

    • A coach is actually allowed to be prejudiced in a team sport. He doesn’t have to pick you and you cannot sue. Now if you have a contract that says he must play you, that is different.
      Thema had a contract.

    • The contract is NOT crux the issue Mr Tull rose. He said that marisa should not be allowed to benefit. in other words she should not be the rep at Rio. Yuh agreeing with that?

    • “An NOC shall only enter competitors upon the recommendations for entries given
      by national federations. If the NOC approves thereof, it shall transmit such entries to
      the OCOG. The OCOG must acknowledge their receipt. NOCs must investigate the
      validity of the entries proposed by the national federations and ensure that no one has
      been excluded for racial, religious or political reasons or by reason of other forms of

      Excerpt from the Olympic Charter.

    • And there is where the TTOC can go after them!

    • The TTOC I am sure, did not come by their decision lightly. But after careful consideration of the KNOWN facts and with legal advice

    • The section seems to say the NOC does not have to approve a recommendation if it finds that persons were excluded improperly.

    • Chandani, my assumption is that because Thema had a contract that was breached, Kendall is saying that nobody should benefit from that breach and injustice to Thema.
      So it is nothing against Marisa. It is a stance for justice for Thema.
      If that is what he meant, then I agree with that.

    • You would be hard pressed to prove that the TTGF used discrimination of any kind to remove Thema. We can surmise, but can you prove sans evidence? I think it unjust, unfair and downright fishy. The TTOC can deny approval sure, but the FIG said all was above board..where is the smoking gun?

    • FIG said the registration of the athlete at the event was done properly. That has nothing to do with the decision to replace Thema.

    • That isn’t totally true Chandani. The FIG said the TTGF followed their international rules. And it said the specifics of the contract between the TTGF and its athletes were not their business.
      The FIG didn’t say the TTGF didn’t cheat its athlete. And FIG didn’t even care enough to offer an arbitration.
      But even the TTGF admitted to the breach at its press conference.

    • And you won’t be hardpressed at all. Did they have a medical report? No. Well, the athlete’s contract said you need one to remove an injured athlete.

    • And there is the crux of my earlier statement. If there was a clear breach, how could this be allowed to stand?

    • Lasana, I am not defending the TTGF but do you feel that marisa should be stripped of her place in Rio? And if so are you are basing it on Thema’s unjust treatment? If yes, then what about the injustice to marisa who qualified?

    • Did marisa herself play any part in Thema’s removal? Smoking gun???

    • Lasana Liburd Also, if the coach said she was a disaster, she was constantly falling (thema said it was all true), that he asked her to withdraw. Do you think the TTGF’s stance that they ahd little time to act is an excuse, especially in nlight of what I find to be a pretty damning report from geddert?

    • How can we talk about justice for Marisa who was only there becase Thema was stripped. She was never supposed to be there.

    • But she was the alternate breds. She was supposed to be there if something went awry. She got the call and responded…why strip her? To punish her for the TTGf’s gaff?

    • Listen eh, I was clamouring for her removal, but after listening carefully, to Thema’s interview I modified my views. Thema says they are BOTH pawns, that has to mean something here.

    • Chandani, there were articles in the international press criticising the venue. Lots of athletes were falling. The coach said that after.
      Surely you read that too. You do know that even the TTGF is not contesting that anymore right? The TTGF is only saying that they thought it was the right thing at the time with insufficient evidence. But some people seem to suggest that it was the right call even with proper evidence now. I find that very strange.

    • Lasana Liburd I am not defending it, you know I have been on a rant about the injustice. I am asking about Marisa and why is she supposed to not be the choice now? How is it her fault.

    • If you take your hard earned money and bought a car from a dealership Chandani. And it turns out the car was stolen from Kendall and he can prove it.
      Should you keep the car?

    • lol You playing the ass man. You serious with that analogy? You see teh dealership is responsible, I may have to turn the car over but I can get my money back from the dealership. If, I said If marisa was not complicit in the injustice, despite dislike for her, she was the alternate, her Federation called upon her and she responded, supposedly thinking Thema was injured, not so? Then she competed and made the cut to the OLYMPICS, yuh serious ? She should not be allowed to compete?

    • If it was not her fault, why then perpetrate a second injustice on a young woman? You feel it right she flew all the way there, and competed for nutten? Then she was put in the same position as Thema, that cyar be right or the solution

    • Chandani, that is exactly what the TTOC said. So I don’t know how to explain it again. Brian Lewis said so after legal advice from Elton Prescott SC. So Prescott is playing the ass too.
      The only thing that saved Marisa was the FIG. If they found that procedure wasn’t followed, she would have lost the spot despite doing absolutely nothing wrong.
      I don’t know why you can’t absorb that. But I can’t say it differently. Would you like me to tag you to story so you can read someone else say it?

    • lol I slow, it late, Yeah tag me because I find yuh analogy not making sense, it could be I jet lagger lol

    • Lewis gave some more insight into the duty of his games management committee.

      “When the games management committee meets, there will be a particular checklist they will go through,” Lewis told Wired868. “They will check things like athlete eligibility, age requirements, the qualification standard established by FIG…

      “The process under which an alternate could change…”

    • Lasana as you mention “the process”. In the aftermath of the TTOC decision to send Marisa to the Olympics did I read somewhere that the TTGF asserted that the requirements for medical report by FIG sanctioned doctor and the coach’s recommendation as prerequisites for replacing Thema..only applied if the athlete initiated the withdrawal and not the TTGF? I have to go back and find the article but I remember being surprised that the TTOC would latch on to the fact that the FIG insisted all their rules were followed in replacing Thema with Marisa and yet they never addressed the issue of the fact that no doctors report was submitted when Thema’s accreditation was handed in. I remember it being glossed over as in those procedures only apply if the athlete takes herself out. I found that strange because the likelihood of that happening is really low.

    • Rose-Marie I think that was article about Thema’s options narrowing. Will check for link later.

    • Lasana I found the story. It was the one where she was announced. It really did say that the athletes contract said….Williams’ contract, which read: “I will participate for the full duration of the event unless I am excused by ….

      And it said Marques was not bound by that statement. I guess they used the word “excused” to mean if the athlete wished to be excused. This must be what the TTGF paid Ramesh to interpret for them.

      If only they had used the word “replaced” or “withdrawn”

  13. To me, the removal of Thema is a breach of natural justice at the base. Marisa Dick has benefitted from that breach in receiving the Rio opportunity that was taken away from Thema. A basic premise is that you cannot benefit from stolen property, regardless of whether you knew it to be stolen or not. That distinction only affects whether you are guilty of receiving stolen property (a crime), or not.

    How the TTOC can say that nothing can be done in one breath and that the TTGF will be sanctioned for their actions being unfair on the other is frankly bizarre and insulting.

    And as for the premise that radical action will harm others, we are all diminished when wanton acts of injustice are allowed to pass unchallenged. Morality and equity have always been purchased by pain in any society.

    We must make it clear at all costs that we as a people will not tolerate unethical behaviour and injustice. To do otherwise is to continue to slide into the abyss that plagues this country at all levels.

  14. Sean Powder

    People please do not fall for the bait and switch(trying to blame Geddert) or the spin from the supporters(family) of Marissa. Their sole purpose is to take the focus off of the true criminals that deselected Thema. The reporting of Wired868 revealed the injustice to all of us, it forced our weak established media to pay attention. The nonsense I am reading from these Dick supporters is TOTAL lies and spin.

    Wi tek dick from Calder Hart treachery and theft
    Wi tek dick from Royal Bank of Canada buying one of our most profitable banks then firing many of us
    Now wi hav fuh tek Marissa Dick stealing from Thema?

    The only good thing from Canada in recent history is Coach Hart who is originally one of us and we keeping.

    We must not stop until TTGF is broke, personally go after the Board members making sure they do not succeed just like Thema did not. If food is taken off Thema table, why should they be able to eat.

    A fund to finance Thema lawyers must be established, if it has already somebody tell me where I can sent a check.

  15. What is most telling isd the Thema interview where she says she feels that BOTH her and Dick are pawns.

  16. Never mind the racist undertones of the letter. We going good.

  17. This decision was not made by one man yet Mr. Best contrives an entire rant, ignorant of the actual facts that went in to making the decision, and launches a uncalled for personal attack on the messenger. Moronic.

  18. I really think that some ppl just on the surface want to impress others that they are intelligent and most of all fair and un-biased.. but if its that they truly feel in their hearts that Marissa and/her mother have any little tinge of morality re this issue, I can certainly see where politicians in TNT will continue to have nothing to fear about morality and integrity and the wider populace will continue to suffer the ensuing hardships..

  19. Lasana Liburd you are too patient and polite …… I will not support Marisa Dick as a representative of TTO 2016 because it is my personal belief that she thinks she is ‘entitled’ and whether she appears not to have colluded with the TTGF it is again my personal belief that she did and to support her will be to send the wrong message to the entire country and by extension the youthful gymnasts that it is ok to have others do dirty works from which you benefit …..

  20. But you sit by and join in rotten attacks on her though. I don’t see you correcting anyone.

  21. I’m so disgusted by all the nastiness directed to Dick but meanwhile the architect of this entire thing; Geddert is left unscathed. Attacking, bad mouthing everyone but can’t say a word to the ‘foreign’ coach, what a shame.

  22. “You must have been aware that much of the public comment on this issue has been coloured by the conviction that what mattered in this whole issue was not so much what is fair and what is not but who is fair and who is not”…or, vice versa, ent?

  23. ‘That dishonesty pays off & the end justifies the means…’ Nuff said!!!!

  24. George Bovell was born in Guelph, Chris Birchall in Standord, The Mighty Sparrow in Grenada. T&T has talent born in Trinidad and abroad too. Im getting tired of fake Trinis who only come smiling and waiving their flags when the foreign athletes are victorious (that’s what a bandwagonist is) which btw Marissa is just as successful as Thema. Marisa is being ridiculed because of something out of her control. For those who don’t realize, the problem is not that an outsider is representing us. It is the mismanagement of the older administrators at the cost of 1 Olympian hopeful and the other’s potential performance on the worlds largest stage. Please fellow Trinis, stop ridiculing our young athletes especially in topics like this when you know nothing about their heritage. Marisa is a qualified Olympian, she’s not there by mistake-may be its a case of ones mans fortune is another mans mis-fortune, but Let’s support Marissa during the games, hope for Thema’s continued blessings as she moves on from this crushing experience and build for better governance and management in our sports and society. People are so fixated on what’s wrong with this country and don’t realize there are people working to make things better- instead quick to point fingers and talk a pack of toots. Please do your POSITIVE part- (just my two cents)

    • A lot of people have criticised Marisa because she was born in Canada. But I don’t know if they are in the majority. I don’t think the author was going there at all either.
      Most of the criticism in this group is only regarding whether it was a just decision, based on the agreement between the TTGF and the athletes.
      And, in its press conference, the TTGF itself said that it did not follow that contract with Thema.

    • Allan, for me, the issue I have with this is the fact that Dick did not compete under the same conditions as Williams. YES Bovell was in Canada, but I’m sure he didnt get a walk on opportunity like Dick did.

      there’s nothing wrong with competing for the country of your parents. theres something wrong with the way that it sometimes happen. And sometimes, not all, there are a lot of political interference as well.

    • Allan V. Crane, you see nothing in the way Marisa Dick was selected for the Rio Test event that concerned you?

    • At Lasana Liburd- to be fair, I copied that first post from a post I made replying to another comment on another article posted by CNC3- every other post was saying “we have talent here, forget foreigners,etc” just thought I’d share my opinion here as it is a bit relative to this article and the tone I got from Mr. Best.

      Regarding the selecting process, yes I do. But it’s not her fault as the athlete. It is the fault of the admin (as always is) I’m reminding ppl in trini to leave “Dick” out of their mouths when it come to ridicule and put it back in when it comes to positive support of our representing athlete. It seams to me Thema is a brilliant girl and is moving on while Marisa is preparing to go and the rest of trini is bashing because they feel cheated by the latter where infact it’s through the fault of the administration. I feel sorry for Marisa, I won’t be surprised if she ends up hating this country when infact we should be great full we have a “Dick move” in the record books (no pun intended). Non-of us knows what will happen in Rio. If Marisa comes last all sorts of bashing and hate will happen on how Thema would have done better etc. while if by some medicine she did the impossible and medal, Trinidad will still say Thema was the more deserving. In sports, unfair things happen and it is always the case that someone’s unfairness is another’s victory. In this case Marisa is not to blame. So just reiterating please support our Olympic athlete, condemn the ones at fault and work towards not letting the faults repeat themselves.

      And at Ravi Maharaj, I’m confident there’s no such thing as a walk on opportunity to the Olympics. It is hard work, determination and believe it or not, LUCK. Thema isn’t the most deserving athlete in history who has had bad luck see her lose her spot. The country has been so side swiped by Thema’s story, what about Marisa’s side? I don’t see News articles of beauty shots of this athlete, instead a set of innuendos headlines that mislead readers with 1 line. Condemn the admin for what ever faults, not the athlete. That’s my view.

    • Like is said before, Dick played it smartly to distance herself from the bachannal as much as she could.

    • Allan V. Crane, you’re also missing the fact that Marisa DID in fact try out for the Canadian Gymnastics Olympic team, and she did NOT qualify, for even their reserve roster. It was then decided, that she would ride a T&T ticket, to get there, because of dual citizenship, and whatever ties her family has with the TTGF. We have no problem with foreign athletes with Trinbagonian heritage representing us, as there is precedence. However, if Marisa had qualified for the Canadian Olympic Team, she would not have even given T&T a second look. She also emphatically states, on the floor she’s a Trinbagonian, but, she’s a Canadian at heart. That’s what is really griping people about her nationality, and how it factors in more negativity on the entire fiasco.

    • ^^^^
      Is the common trend happening in Canada right now. Simply apply for a passport, with a little political help, they get it quickly and then appear playing for a team with a Trinidad and Tobago flag

    • フィッリプス ナシャ when did she try out for the Canadian Gymnastics Olympic team?

    • Mel, she participated in the tournament from which top athletes go on to represent country. She didn’t do well enough in that tournament to represent Canada.
      So you can argue for and against whether she tried out. What is certain is that she wasn’t at the required level.

    • Lasana did she try out for the TNT team?

    • Was that on the road to Rio 2016 Lasana? I ask because I saw some results being shared on Facebook from back in 2011. She would have been 13 back then and I have no idea if those results had any bearing on Rio 2016

    • Allan V. Crane, there are two parts you are glossing over here. One, Marisa’s mother wrote an email to the TTGF vice president and asked for her daughter to get another shot at the spot even though Thema had already qualified.
      And Marisa herself said it was “cut throat time” and it was a two-horse race AFTER Thema had already secured the SOLE qualifying spot according to the TTGF selection criteria.
      So I agree that this whole matter is an administrative issue really. But if you over simplify it and leave out those two bits, it would seem as though you are not really presenting a fair argument.
      And there is even a third part where Marisa said she is Canadian at heart.
      Now people make mistakes and she is a young girl. But it would be harsh to say that people should be demonised for having a response to that. They should not overdo it which is different.

    • Mel, it was a matter of months before she switched allegiance and asked to represent Trinidad.

    • Really? I never saw that in the interviews I saw of her

    • And I still have no idea as to what her 2011 score card has to do with Rio 2016

    • She competed for TNT in the 2015 Panam Games.

    • Not really her score card is in Question Mel, but the way in which she made the Rio “team”. If there was an invite sent to her to tryout for the TTO, sure thing, lets grant her a place on the Olympic team because she passed Thema on scores. How she made it here I eh know na

    • Mel you asked if she ever tried to compete for Canada. I told you when she went into tournament that was qualifier for Canada.
      I think what people mean is that she turned to Trinidad when she couldn’t make Canada team. Which is understandable anyway as their team is harder to make.
      I don’t think it has anything to do with 2016. I think people are looking at that to say she is using T&T for convenience to get to Rio 2016.

    • She tried for the national Canadian Elite status which is a fast track for eventual future Olympic qualification, in 2011 and 2012 unsuccessfully. It was then she and her mother made contact with the LueShue’s to compete for TnT. And was receiving our “Elite funding” by 2013. All this can be substantiated through statements made in interviews by Marisa and her mother as well as competition scores from 2011 and 2012.

    • It woud also have been difficult after turning to T&T to go back to trying out for Canada for Rio 2016. That would have been serious flip-flopping and may have caused her to be absent from either team.

    • Im just stating my opinion as I have stayed quiet the whole time. There’s a whole lot I can respond to here and maybe even change the views of one or 2 ppl (or make a fool of myself. Lol) but I can’t spend the time on it. But my bottom line is Support Thema just like all the awesome graphics I’m seeing of her as a non-Olympian says, and also Support our actual Olympian, unlike all the nasty distasteful things I’m hearing media and ignorant ppl say about her.

    • That was not what I was asking Lasana. I think I explained it in the subsequent comments if the first one wasn’t clear

    • I will not support a dishonestly gotten gain at the expense of another athlete. I will not celebrate or support the dishonest means through which “we” got there. The purposeful disregard for legal and due process and the months of systematic bias of the TTGF for one athlete over another in the lead up to the Brazil test event. In fact we continue to urge a boycott of funding and donation to the TTOC until they assemble the independent tribunal as allowed by Clause 13 in their constitution. We are lobbying for expulsion of the TTGF on the condition that the current board resigns immediately.

    • But, Allan V. Crane, how can you ask the country to support someone who, knowingly, if not partook, in the expulsion of the rightfully chosen athlete??? If you worked hard for something, and rightfully, legally, and fairly achieved it, and it was wrongfully, and unjustly, taken away from you, because you were not favoured by the administration, would you still be saying support that person, just as if it were you???

    • Allan,
      Lasana has pretty much said what needed to be said as a direct response to your comment. But I want to say a little more as follows:

      (1) I’m not going to actively support Marisa in Rio but I don’t think she’s completely blameless. However, I wouldn’t have cared less where she was born had she not tried out for Canada before deciding to seek to represent T&T. But although my focus is the TTOC cock-up, I certainly don’t think Marisa’s place of birth is irrelevant in this whole affair.

      (2) Team sports are, in my view, very different from individual sports so the Birchall example is a red herring.

      (3) I am pretty long in the tooth so I can tell you that Sparrow’s place of birth was used against him in the Independence Calypso King Competition in 1962. I’m willing to bet you don’t know Brynner’s song which won him the title; Sparrow’s is still played on the radio occasionally.

      (4) Read the consistent position espoused by Rose-Marie Lemessy for example in her comments and see whether you still think it is fair to ask people to support Marisa in Rio. Why can’t we respect people’s right to do what their consciences dictate?

    • I know the 2 athletes. And while we’re not best liming friends, I would like to believe no one here cutting anyone throat. If it is found that Marisa herself intentionally and maliciously sidestepped Thema, then sure I’ll agree with you and Abeo Jackson and say Marisa doesn’t deserve the support, but for now, with the information given that I have seen, I’ll still support our athlete’s success. boycotting support fund to TTOC’s initiative hurts who the most do you feel? I’ll give a hint- it’s the athletes. Both fairly put there and unfairly. Marisa qualified, and until proven guilty, support her. TTGF did shit. Once it’s proven to be so, punish them. But let our athlete compete as best as she could. I would be saying the same thing if it were the other way around too. I’m just seeing too much bashing of Marisa as if it’s her fault. Lasana. Is it her fault in ur opinion ?

    • Allan, the decision was not Marisa’s own. And probably most young athletes in her position would have done the same thing. So I don’t blame her for what happened to Thema.
      I don’t think her behaviour has been anything close to exemplary. I think her behaviour has been inadequate.
      But it is the TTGF that created this problem by not adhering to its contract with the athlete.

    • There are bitter pills that must be swallowed to affect the change that we have long buried our heads in the sand to avoid in this country. Because it’s hard and ppl will be uncomfortable. It’s amazing that we are more times than not comfortable erring on the side of injustice rather than rock the boat or question/challenge the status quo. Sportmanship across disciplines could actually force the reform that must happen to ensure that this kind of injustice does not happen to any other athlete under the purview of any other NSO. If we don’t, it will, and it will be spoken about in hushed whispers, in conference rooms, at meets, at training, until the spotlight is shone on another like this one. Unless we start to fix who we are as a ppl. Our innate need to be dishonest, to thrive on neptotism, from the corner parlour, to the parliament, to sport, to culture, to contracts. Or we can take the cowards road more easily and comfortably travelled. The choice is ours. Yours and mine. I will reserve my right to continue to demand answers and justice in this case and to encourage others to do the same, in the hope that it can be the drop in the bucket of the tidal wave of change that has to and must happen in Trinidad and Tobago. You are free to make whatever choice you so desire.

    • Note carefully that I did not and well not say Marisa behaved well. But most young athletes just want to compete and are happy to break rules, especially if they were raised that way.

    • Lasana Liburd, I would be interested to hear what about Marisa’s behaviour you consider to have been “inadequate”.

    • Lasana Liburd that may be true in most cases. However, is it okay to give that athlete a bligh, because they are young, or is it better to halt that way of thinking, and achieving ones goals, when it becomes apparent??? Athletes who partake in such actions, have been known to commit criminal acts, to achieve their goals because they were given a Bligh when they young (not saying Marisa will, but, such actions can lead down path in later years).

    • Of course Gerard. I thought her comment about cut throat time and there being a two horse was race was poor behaviour.
      She knew or ought to have known that Thema was already selected and such a statement could only have unsettled Thema.
      And I think her insistence that Thema was injured in Rio is mischievous and bad behaviour. Even the TTGF isn’t saying she was injured but only they thought she was.
      She also did not correct her mother when she gave an incorrect time for their departure from Fort McMurray, although sitting next to her.
      Anything else?

    • Lasana Liburd, that’s a lengthy reach, in my view. But I suppose in your opinion Thema’s behaviour has been exemplary, right?

    • And wasn’t it Thema’s coach himself who first stated that Thema was injured?

    • Lasana you have patience like Job oui. Job I tell you!! Jah R Fari!!!!
      *unfollows post*

    • Gerard, the coach said she had a sore ankle. The coach said she had an injury before Rio. You understand the difference with BEFORE Rio and IN Rio?
      I would expect Marisa is old enough to know the difference.
      You too for that matter.

    • “At 7.24 pm on April 15: …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.” Lasana, this is an excerpt from the e-mail that you yourself posted recently eh. Apparently the coach thought the “sore ankle” serious enough that he asked Thema to withdraw the week before. I expect that you too might understand whether this was a minor issue or not, eh?

    • Would such an experienced and competent coach like Geddert have asked the athlete to withdraw if he believed that she would be able to compete successfully?

    • Gerard, they had not been in Rio for a week. And he did not ask her to withdraw in Rio. And, no, a “sore ankle” isn’t considered an injury in many sports.
      Just something you have to be mindful of.

    • Comprehension Gerard. They were not in Rio for a week. And he was not asking for her to be withdrawn while in Rio.
      You are advancing arguments that even the TTGF is not advancing Gerard. I find that most curious.
      Because the TTGF said it acted on incomplete information and did not follow procedure in getting a medical report.
      Yet, despite that–and with a medical report saying Thema was fit to compete–you are still saying she was injured.
      How can I take you seriously?

    • Another Geddert quote published by Lasana…”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…” Is this a vote of confidence in the athlete being able to compete successfully?

    • And while we are it. Here is your comment Gerard Emile Zatopek Pinard: “But I suppose in your opinion Thema’s behaviour has been exemplary, right?”
      Now, don’t leave us in the dark. Please tell us about naughty Thema.
      Tell us about her behaviour now.

    • As I have said over and over again, if the facts show that there was misbehavior on the part of the TTGF or any other party they ought to be dealt with severely. However, in my view there has been little acknowledgment of the information provided by Thema’s own coach on the eve of the all important Test Event to determine whether T&T would qualify for the Olympics, and what options the TTGF had available in the circumstances.

    • That is a different argument Gerard Emile Zatopek Pinard. But let us not sign off just yet.
      You made an inference that Thema’s behaviour might not have been exemplary.
      Now with all that Thema has gone through, I would think it highly irresponsible for someone to add to it by making suggestions of ill behaviour too.
      So please let me know what might constitute her bad behaviour.

    • At the risk of dying like a cockroach, didn’t Marisa compete in some event with a fractured rib?!

    • I’m waiting for your response as well Gerard. Don’t back out now. What precisely do you mean when you reference Thema’s behavior.

    • She did from all accounts Judy-ann. And that wasn’t a problem for anyone apparently.
      But don’t distract my pardner Gerard. I’m dying to know how Thema’s behaviour was less than exemplary. And I know he wouldn’t just cast aspersions and then disappear.

    • Yes she did Judy Ann. Gerard. Back to you.

    • Lasana Liburd, Thema’s coach asked her to withdraw! He didn’t suggest we play it by ear and see if things improve next week eh. He asked her to withdraw! Then, the following week with just days to go before the Test event he stated that she “showed little signs of being able to perform well”. Was this just loose talk by such an experienced coach or a serious alarm bell not to be taken lightly? As for the medical report saying that Thema was “fit to perform”, has this been made available?

    • Gerard you MUST be joking. That is a ridiculous comment. I don’t for a second believe you don’t know then difference between asking someone if they want to withdraw (or continue) or requesting that they withdraw.

      You talk about defending Marisa and you sink that low into the gutter? My God I doubted whether you were playing devil’s advocate. I gave you benefit of doubt. But you’ve gone too far.

    • Lasana Liburd, while I do not wish to get into the issue of either athlete’s behaviour, I have previously opined that I considered her adverse comment on Marisa’s “character” during her press conference to be unfortunate. As I said, though, the behaviour of both athletes, in my opinion anyway, has not been an issue and should not be.

    • No, the report hasn’t surfaced Gerard. Apparently it wasn’t written. But a TTGF official told me that Ricardo Lue Shue heard the same thing from the doctor that Thema did. So I have no reason to doubt it.
      And Geddert’s email was certainly reason to worry. Good thing the TTGF had a checklist in place to ensure that there was no overreaction, which included the need for stuff like a medical report.
      And the therapist who was there told the TTGF that they were overreacting BEFORE they pulled Thema.

    • You absolutely CANNOT make any negative inference about Thema’s character. That is precisely what makes your comment above despicable. Even if your characterization of that quote was true, it casts absolutely no shadow on anyone’s character.

      It’s beyond a stretch and you really should be ashamed of yourself.

    • Wow what a discussion! Semantics semantics on the try out for Canada issue – the fact is one cannot simply try out for team canada, you have to try out for Canada elite and she failed at those tryouts not once but twice and I believe a third (first in 2010 if I am not mistaken). All parties are at fault – TTGF TTOC the Dicks and some blame if U have to point fingers at the coach for an incomplete report which while considered to have played a major part in this debacle, really is minute in the grand scheme of dishonesty and collusion between the TTGF and the Dicks. Regarding her country of birth – she has had NOTHING to do with trinidad until she realized that she could be a big fish in a small pond here. Bovell is trini though being born in Canada, I am trini despite being born in Canada we have roots and parents who live here we have attended schools here, trained here/worked here. I am not denying anyone with a trini passport the right to be here but Regarding whether or not homegrown athletes are more deserving than foreign to represent us? If they are of the same level then definitely they are in my opinion – if not why not go round up all foreign nationals to rep T&T and dash all the hopes of any homegrown athlete because we will NEVER have the opportunities available to our youth as the foreigners would! You might as well scrap all sports programs locally and import all the talent! I do take issue with people who USE this country to further their careers only. Do you think for one moment that when this is over Marisa will stay here and encourage our nation’s youth in gymnastics programs? You are naive then. She will be back in Canada in a heartbeat finishing her studies getting OSAP and free health care. And for the record she is just as responsible as the TTGF because any decent human being with ethics and morals would have stepped down knowing fully well that she didn’t earn that spot fair and square. As for the TTOC – how about U stand up for the basic component for the organization that you represent – fair play! In a stand against all parties involved, if one must suffer all should suffer if it would make one iota of difference to how things are run in this country. I totally support boycotting funding to the TTOC!

    • Let me help you Gerard, here is Thema’s full comment: “What (the TTGF) did was blatantly unjust and if you’re not against it, you’re for it. I believe that says a lot about character.”
      So if I say that Marlene recommending that her common-law husband and his brother receive HDC houses is a sign of her character? Would I also have behaved badly?
      Or would I have given an opinion based on fact?

    • That is really shameful in my opinion, Gerard. Marisa is saying someone was injured after a doctor cleared her. And Marisa said she is competing for a spot which she knew belonged to someone else.
      You want to compare that with what Thema said?

    • Nicole Philip Greene, you obviously have not read what I posted. The imputation about Marisa’s character was made by Thema during her press conference with her lawyer. I have made absolutely no reference to anyone’s character, as you seem to suggest. Go back and read what I posted carefully and see if you are on the right track.

    • I don’t agree with boycotting the Olympics though. I still feel that would be an overraction. Because many athletes who behaved exemplary would suffer. And I think the fault here lies–if anywhere at all–with the behaviour of the TTGF.

    • I hear you lasana and sorry for the rant I am so sick of people saying Marisa is not in the wrong. But I really doubt anything but a boycott Would be the bring about change. The TTOC had every right to stand on the side on what is right and just, and they didn’t.

    • Lasana Liburd, you too need to go back and read (and comprehend) what I wrote rather than what you ASSUME I meant, eh. Unlike you, I have made no assertion about anybody’s behaviour being “inadequate” or to comment about how they were “raised”. What I have said is that I considered Thema’s reference to Marisa’s character to be unfortunate, and I still think so.

    • Let me also reiterate what I have said earlier and that is that both young athletes have displayed exemplary decorum in the circumstances. The same cannot be said about many “hard back” adults on this site and elsewhere who have stooped to the lowest of levels in maligning others.

    • Lasana Liburd, that I can agree with. However, casting aspersions and blame on Marisa I consider to be more than unfortunate. And Geddert is certainly not blameless in this entire tragedy, though he seems to have come out smelling like a rose in the eyes of most folks.

    • And I keep asking for a FULL investigation of all the circumstances before we indulge in our quixotical attacks on all and sundry. Get ALL the facts and let the cards fall where they may!

    • Gerard, I have said that I do not blame Marisa for what happened to Thema. IT is the TTGF that acted.
      I thought Geddert’s training report was unprofessional at best. I haven’t seen medical report myself to be able to gauge whether Geddert was simply being honest or not.
      But it was the TTGF’s actions that created this problem.

    • And there’s no one bashing Marissa Dick on this particular part of the thread.

    • As for the TTOC, I don’t like their decision. It doesn’t smell fair to me. But I can’t ask Brian Lewis to overrule the TTOC games management committee.
      And I have to understand that there was a need for legal responsibility here too. So they disappointed me but I won’t be harsh on them.

    • Marisa’s mother was dishonest in our interview and other interviews when she spoke of the time of their departure from Fort McMurray. She contradicted herself several times.
      And I find it really unfortunate that she would expose her young daughter to such behaviour, Gerard.
      I don’t like to comment on people’s parenting styles. Nobody is perfect. But I do find that unfortunate.
      I am sure Thema is not perfect too. But I think many people can learn from her behaviour in this crisis for her, which must have felt like her world is falling in.
      Otherwise, I continue to say that this problem was created by the TTGF. Nobody, including Geddert, could force the TTGF to violate procedure.

  25. Brian did look like that was the hardest thing for him to do.

  26. TTOC had an opportunity to right some wrong and they took the easy way out. The international body for gymnastics sanctions shouldn’t stand in the way of them doing what was the right thing. No one going . I can never support Marissa wont even watch her compete. Thats just me

  27. I really want to forget about this whole thing now because it upsets my spirit.

  28. the FIG’s explanation is simple and acceptable………….we are speaking here of a USURPATION of the process that MUST BE DISCOURAGED !…………

  29. I don’t think the TTOC has much of a
    say “………….Thema should ” go behind ” the TTGF……….not for revenge…………….but rather to MAKE AN EXAMPLE of the many administrators high handedness …………let the chips fall where they may !………….too many young athletes being denied their desire to represent RED / WHITE /BLACK……….why ?………because some people’s ego is placed above Trinidad and Tobago ?

  30. The commentators will have a field day with this

  31. In the narrow view the TTOC has effectively failed to protect both athletes. In the bigger picture they have failed to protect the integrity of sports and athletics in Trinidad and Tobago. A golden opportunity lost.

  32. well yes, he can always hold out though.

  33. The foreman of the jury cannot be blamed if the majority of the jurors want to hand down a contrary verdict.

  34. Legal Responsibility trumps! You must NEVER let your morals stop you from doing what is right….lol

  35. This is where moral principle meets legal responsibility. As head of a body, which takes precedent?
    I think that is a devilishly difficult question.

  36. “But because the upholder is worse than the thief, because your pusillanimity helped whitewash their deliberate plotting and scheming, you, Brian, will earn an eternally ignominious place…

    … in T&T sport’s black books.” Thank you Earl Best!

  37. This will go down in history as a stain in our gymnastics journey.

  38. ..He should not have teased the public with a hinted promise he could not guarantee. When you have to shoot, shoot, doh talk..

  39. Plenty extra emotions swirling around this boy

  40. This piece express my true feelings. Thema was robbed of the Olympic spot she earned and they took it away from her. Brian should have taken up the fight and not send Dick. This entire situation is so sad and unfair. Thema may never have the opportunity to go to the Olympics again in life. 4 years is a long time to wait and anything can happen in that time. Brian bro you should have fought for what is right.

    • Exactly. It’s going to be tough for her, but what is for you is for you and I hope that she gets what is rightfully her’s in four years and she secures her gold. This is such a shame.

    • Go and research at what age some of the best gymnast are at their peak AND WHY SHOULD SHE MAKE “MORE” SACRIFICE for T&T after this “”KICK”” in the pants WHY. I agree with her take up the USA collegiate and get her schooling. This was her time and she has BEEN robbed by people who when you look at them it is certain that most of their lives they have attained by any means possible.

  41. But it wasn’t Brian’s decision to make unilaterally…
    The legal structure of TTOC doesn’t allow for it. If you don’t have the power to make a decision, how are you supposed to make a decision?
    Can we not apportion responsibility fairly here?

    • One word to start with, Chabeth: leadership. And here are two more relevant words: righteous indignation.

      If Brian as an individual were convinced of the injustice, do I think the eventual decision would have been the same? Perhaps. Do I think the announcement – significantly, made by Brian himself – would have clued us in? Most likely. Did it? Emphatically not!

      And righteous indignation is very hard to disguise.

    • It wasn’t Brian’s decision to make and he has no veto power over the decision if he doesn’t like it.
      How somebody can be blamed for not exercising authority that they do not have is beyond me.
      There are grown men and women on the committee responsible for making this decision. I would think that Brian had discussion with all of them and still a contrary decision was made.
      What would have been leadership in this situation? Usurping the committee’s decision? Operating outside legal parameters to effect a certain outcome?
      The irony that would have been given what got us here in the first place…

      • A few more words, Chabeth. Moral authority. Moral suasion. If Brian were CONVINCED of the wrongness of the decision, he would have attempted to persuade the management committee that they had erred. Failing that, does he have any real option but to resign or publicly dissociate himself from the decision? Having done neither, he has taken public responsibility for a decision he knows is wrong and must therefore live with the consequences of his action. Or inaction.

        I am not asking, have never asked anyone to either usurp the committee’s decision or operating outside legal parameters to effect a certain outcome. I have merely criticised one person for not doing what, in my considered opinion, would have been the right thing to do PROVIDED HE AGREES THAT THE TTOC MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE’S DECISION WAS MORALLY (NOT LEGALLY!) WRONG. Sometimes, as I think I said elsewhere, the only way NOT to spoil your face is to cut off your nose.

        But here in T&T, people often shun the moral high ground but want to be seen as leaders. Misleaders and cheerleaders are, as far as I am concerned, the best status they can hope for.

    • Earl, saying that the leader of an organization should resign because he/she is uncomfortable, displeased, or in stark disagreement with a particular decision or route that the organization is taking or has taken is completely different from blaming the head of the organization for the decision of which he/she had no part nor could veto.
      Your piece doesn’t suggest how Brian should respond in the aftermath of the decision. It blames him for the decision and its outcome. And that’s where I disagree with you.
      I’d agree with you on your entire assessment of leadership in the country.
      Having said that however, the liberty to act morally right even when it may be legally wrong does not extend to the TTOC in the same way that it would extend to a private company or even a public sector company that answers to a higher national authority.
      IOC sanctions for wrongful behaviour could have implications for all Olympians (current and future) and that is something that has to be taken into account when deciding how to address this debacle. So I think in these circumstances it’s an oversimplification to talk of moral authority and suasion. Thema isn’t our only athlete who mattered. Would it have been fair to jeopardize other athletes’ Olympic aspirations?

      • Chabeth, to start at the end, the simple answer is no. It would not have been fair to jeopardize other athletes’ Olympic aspirations and I am not saying that that is what should have happened. What I have said to you but have not, as you point out, explicitly said in my piece is that, if Brian was convinced of the injustice done to Thema, then he had options for conveying that which he failed to exercise. (“Failing that, does he have any real option but to resign or publicly dissociate himself from the decision?”)

        The reference to moral suasion and moral authority speaks to action that might have been taken upstream, prior to the finalising of the decision. My earlier reference to righteous indignation speaks to the downstream option, still open to him once he had failed to persuade the others.

        There is a comment somewhere on the piece which suggests that Brian looked as if making that announcement was “the hardest thing for him to do.” I heard the announcement, haven’t seen any video of it and therefore can’t tell if there’s any truth in that. I HEARD dissatisfaction, I HEARD muted anger even. But I just re-read the statement here on Wired to see if I had missed something. Negative.

        So I stand by my earlier judgement. Brian can’t eat his cake and have it. If he thought there was hanky-panky, wrongdoing somewhere along the line, he had to make his own disapproval clear in public – even if he opted not to “jeopardize other athletes’ Olympic aspirations” by accepting the place Marisa had – unfairly, in his mind – won for herself.

        If the piece “blames him for the decision and its outcome,” that’s entirely my fault; I intended him to blame him for HIS decision and to warn him that he has to live with the outcome of that.

  42. Brian Lewis should be Brian Gasair. Just gas and hot air. All the talk bout the powers of the TTOC he is the new “Mr Powers I have” whoever whatever but he is now a head eunuch! No cojones. Dem eh getting and spending ONE RED cent of my money on this misadventure. What they get from my taxes is more than enough in fact I should be asking for ah refund.

  43. “But because the upholder is worse than the thief, because your pusillanimity helped whitewash their deliberate plotting and scheming, you, Brian, will earn an eternally ignominious place…in T&T sport’s black books.”