The Trinidad Situation Explained

Women's All Round Artistic Gymnastics at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

“Gymnastics is the most popular sport in Trinidad right now,” my law firm coworker with family in the islands told me when I returned to work following the Olympic Test Event last week. “And no one even knows anything about it.”

The drama between Trinidad & Tobago’s two elite gymnasts, Thema Williams, 20, and Marisa Dick, 18, has been ongoing since the two competed at world championships last year. The Trinidad & Tobago Gymnastics Federation, or TTGF, told its athletes that the gymnast to finish with the highest all-around score at worlds would automatically earn the test event spot, a bad decision in hindsight, as it is now responsible for one of the most ridiculously juvenile fights in gymnastics history.

Williams, who had one of her best career all-around performances in Glasgow, defeated Dick by just shy of a point there, rightfully earning the test event spot based on TTGF’s qualification procedures set out prior to the competition. But because the gymnasts were so close, and because anything could happen between worlds and the test event six months away, the TTGF realized that maybe choosing their representative that early on based on a single score wasn’t the best idea. They were absolutely right. It’s a terrible idea. No other successful, experienced federation selects gymnasts based on a single score six months in advance, and the TTGF simply didn’t realize how ludicrous this was until after it had already promised the spot to Williams.

It’s important to note that while the TTGF had the gymnasts sign contracts ensuring that neither could fight the decision should her opponent get the spot, the TTGF’s initial selection procedure did not legally bind them to stick with its decision. Since the test event spot was a non-nominative one – meaning it belonged to the federation, not to the athlete who earned it for the federation – there is no FIG rule in place that says the TTGF had to select Williams for the spot based on her worlds finish. This seems to be a topic of confusion for most reporting on this event in Trinidad, but even though the TTGF had originally decided to select an athlete based on worlds finishes, its directors and decision-makers had every right to change their minds.

The TTGF thus didn’t “break the rules,” as some press has accused them of doing, though it did unfortunately end up going back on its word. In November, the TTGF stated that it’d rather put the gymnasts through a series of tests, sending them to various invitationals and other smaller meets in the lead-up to the test event in order to choose the gymnast best able to represent the country in April. Naturally, those in Williams’ camp were upset, most notably her mother Helen Adams. Adams went to the media to appeal to the public, discussing the situation with the TTGF and stating that Williams was the “automatic choice” based on the “selection policy established by TTGF.” Her concern was that instead of focusing on preparing for the test event, Williams would now be sidetracked by having to again earn the test event spot, something she thought she’d already won.

With the backlash from the press and from Trinidad’s Olympic Committee, the TTGF caved under pressure, saying Williams could have the spot without being tested in order to focus on her physical and mental preparation for the test event, with Dick to continue training as the alternate. The two gymnasts competed several times early this year, with Williams getting scores of 47.95 at the Houston National Invitational and then a 51.6 at the WOGA Classic while Dick earned a 51.85 to defeat Williams at the WOGA Classic and then went on to pick up a 50.15 in the Challenge division at International Gymnix. While they still looked pretty close in their abilities, Dick seemed to be the more level-headed competitor, something that stands out even more when you consider her track record over the past few years – all six of her all-around finishes have been between a 50.15 and 51.85, a nearly impossible level of consistency, especially compared to Williams’ own 47.95 low and 52.466 high.

But despite Dick looking like the safer option at competitions this spring, the TTGF stuck with Williams, even after an anonymous source leaked a screencap of a long-deleted Instagram photo of Williams posing topless with her arms covering her chest. The TTGF planned to discipline Williams, potentially putting her test event spot in jeopardy yet again, but within days, another anonymous source leaked a similar photo of Dick. The two were again on an equal standing in the public eye, and could again focus on what really mattered – gymnastics – even though the public clearly prefers this drama over the sport itself.

On March 15, the TTGF endorsed its support of Williams along with a disclaimer stating that Williams, who had been unable to train hard surface landings due to a knee injury, could be replaced if her level of fitness in the weeks prior to the event didn’t meet the federation’s standards. The federation was slightly worried, but Williams assured them that she would be prepared. Distractions and nonsense aside, Williams was finally and officially set to represent the country in which she was born, and traveled to compete at the Olympic Test Event in Rio di Janeiro, Brazil with Michigan-based coach John Geddert at her side.

This is where things get dicey and where the only coverage has been entirely biased. Much of the press has taken sides providing only supremely biased and nonsensical yelling rather than factual and accurate journalism. This is especially true of a certain gossipy sports website, a pro-Williams publication which considers itself an expert on gymnastics despite citing FIG rules related to this case that have absolutely nothing to do with the situation (for example, they stated that even if Dick earned the spot, Williams should get to go, despite the test event spots being nominative meaning that they belong to the athlete and not to the federation; they also claimed that Williams should get the tripartite spot for gymnastics despite Trinidad & Tobago not being eligible because they had both already qualified an athlete to Games and even if they hadn’t, the country had 30 athletes at the 2012 Olympics when the rule clearly states that those eligible must have eight or fewer at the previous two Games). Because of this absurdity, I’ve tried to gather everything I’ve been able to piece together in order to share actual facts of what happened.

  • Thema Williams attended podium training on Friday April 15. She didn’t look strong there, something remarked upon by several journalists, as well as her coach. In his report to the TTGF, John Geddert wrote: “Podium training was a disaster with six falls on three events. She has been dealing with a sore ankle to the point that I asked her to withdraw last week. She assured me she can do this.” He went on to state that they limited hard surface landings in training all week because of her sore ankle showing “no signs of recovery.”
  • Upon reading this, the TTGF got nervous about Williams’ readiness. After allegedly unsuccessfully attempting to contact Geddert in order to better assess the situation (they reportedly called and emailed him all evening on the 15th), the TTGF made an executive decision to withdraw Williams from the test event and send Dick in her place.
  • The FIG rule for replacement athletes prior to qualification states that the federation must withdraw the athlete 24 hours prior to the qualification date, which for the test event was Sunday April 17. Given that the TTGF received Geddert’s email on the afternoon of April 15, it had only a few hours before the deadline was up, and without hearing back from Geddert, had to make an emergency decision to pull Williams.
  • The federation submitted its request to the FIG, and the FIG confirmed that the TTGF did in fact meet the deadline “respecting the FIG rules and time limits.” Dick, who was competing at a provincial meet in Alberta, Canada, got the call late Friday night and had her mother take her to the airport immediately.
  • The TTGF emailed Geddert at 1:30 am on April 16, informing him of its decision to remove Williams. Geddert did not respond until 5:27 pm the following day, stating that his initial email was “taken out of context,” and that he meant podium training overall was a disaster (despite his specific mention that Williams had fallen six times and that he had asked her to withdraw due to her ankle). Another source says Geddert responded around noon that day, but that email was not released. Either way, there was a lengthy gap between the TTGF contacting him and his response.
  • Geddert reportedly got on a flight back home at 8 pm, leaving Williams in Rio, due to “pressing family matters” – his daughter’s boyfriend had sadly passed away and he needed to be at the funeral on Monday.
  • Dick arrived in Rio on either Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning, shortly before she was expected to compete with zero access to podium training in the arena. Because her club coach based in Canada could not secure a visa in time, TTGF director Richard Lue Shue flew in as her coach.
  • There was some attempt at setting up an arbitration on Sunday in order for Williams to win back her spot, but this ended up not taking place.
  • Dick competed in the third subdivision on April 17, placing 55th with a score of 51.365 after a solid competition with no major errors. She earned the 29th spot out of the 38 available for individual competitors.
  • In a statement made this afternoon, the Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Committee expressed its support of Dick and confirmed that it will send her to represent the country in Rio this summer.

These are the facts of the story. Obviously there’s a lot more woven throughout, and there is a long history of the TTGF’s close relationship with Dick that has led to shady dealings and preferential treatment, but this is the bare bones list of what happened, plain and simple. The situation is seemingly innocent up close – gymnast struggles in training, federation decides she should be replaced, new gymnast comes in and everything works out in the end. Of course, it’s horrible for the original gymnast set to compete, but that’s life – Williams certainly isn’t the first gymnast or athlete to get bumped at the last minute, and she won’t be the last.

At the end of the day, federations need to do what’s best for their programs, and in this case the TTGF really wanted to ensure an Olympic spot. Given Williams’ injuries and multiple podium training falls, they didn’t believe Williams could make that happen. Geddert stated that Williams “would have earned a spot on her worst day,” but on a bad day just two months ago in Houston, she had a 47.95 all-around score. The lowest-scoring athlete to get an Olympic spot at the test event, in comparison, was Ailen Valente of Argentina with a 49.598. The federation had a legitimate reason for concern.

Dick, an innocent party in all of this, a teenage girl with the same hopes and dreams as Williams who personally did nothing wrong, has been vilified by the press. Williams’ supporters in Trinidad blame Dick and don’t want her to represent the country this summer, saying if she’s “not good enough for Canada, we don’t want her either,” and that they’d rather not have a gymnast represent the country at all than have Dick in Rio, with multiple comments on various sites using “Williams or nothing” as their motto. Should Dick turn down the spot, it will go to first reserve Marina Nekrasova of Azerbaijan. One comment on a Wired868 article suggested that all Williams supporters should support Nekrasova instead. “Go Azerbaijan!” the user wrote.

The press and Williams’ supporters are on a daily hunt to seek out legal infractions on part of the TTGF and the FIG, scouring FIG rule lists and posting smoking gun after smoking gun with long-winded but inaccurate explanations as to how Williams has been wronged. But nothing they find is actually an issue. While the TTGF could have done a much better job handling everything from the second it announced the qualification process back before worlds, nothing has been in violation of FIG procedure, and at the end of the day, the TTGF is in charge of making the rules. They’re also the ones to decide when to change or break them.

One reason for the massive Williams love and subsequent backlash against Dick, who has received death threats and required an entourage of policemen for her press conference in Trinidad last week, is fully a matter of national pride. Compare it to the situation last year when two American gymnasts with zero ties to Belarus were announced to represent the team at worlds while the actual Belarusian gymnasts sat at home. The Dick situation is a bit different, because she actually does have familial ties to Trinidad (her mom Hanifer was born there), she has represented the country since the start of her senior career in 2013, and she didn’t buy her way in the way the Americans did. But none of this matters to Trinidadians, who don’t want a representative at the Olympics at all if that person is not all Trinidad.

In Belarus, the attitude of “anything for an Olympic spot” has been heavily criticized by some of the country’s former Olympians, who ask if the Belarusian federation can really be proud of getting a gymnast to the Games if the gymnast has nothing to do with Belarus. The federation looks good for earning a berth to the Games, but how can Belarus feel proud about this accomplishment? Others, including three-time Olympic champion Svetlana Boginskaya, see how the ends justify the means, in that Belarus stands to gain quite a bit in terms of recognition and funding which can only serve to help the future of the sport in that country.

The main difference is that Belarus doesn’t currently have any gymnasts who could have legitimately earned a spot for this summer’s Olympics. Kylie Dickson, who went to the test event for Belarus, has the potential to score higher with falls than any of Belarus’ current seniors can score on a good day, so the decision was between sending an American who could make it happen and sending a Belarusian who wouldn’t get close. In the end, they went with something over nothing, even if that “something” wasn’t ideal.

Trinidad, on the other hand, had two gymnasts who could potentially make it happen – the Trinidadian born-and-raised Williams and the “Trinidadian on the floor, Canadian at heart” Dick, who used this quote on Instagram to describe herself in a post that has of course been screencapped and blasted across the media. Gymnastically, they’re basically equals, going back and forth all quad and virtually capable of competing at the same exact level, with Williams boasting a little more difficulty thanks to her time with Geddert, though Dick has the better head for competition. Gymnastics aside, though? It’s all about Williams. She is their girl, the one who tried so hard to make it four years ago but just didn’t have the skills, the one who moved to cold and snowy Michigan to train with a coach who could take her to the next level, the one who has worked tirelessly ever since to grow beyond what anyone thought possible to perform so well at worlds last year…she is the one they want to see in Rio. Perhaps they’d give Dick some love if she was all they had – much like how other countries like Armenia, Jamaica, and Azerbaijan have embraced outsiders with open arms given that their programs are nonexistent without them – but with homegrown Williams around and ready to go, there’s no contest. To the people of Trinidad, she is the only option.

But the TTGF’s goals and priorities don’t exactly line up with what the people want. As a business with a lot to gain by getting its first-ever berth to the women’s gymnastics competition at the Olympic Games, it’s understandable that the federation has been nervous and jittery throughout this entire process, trying to make the right decisions but resulting in many mistakes along the way. Its directors feared missing out on a second quad in a row, and at the end of the day, were looking out for themselves, going to any length to ensure an Olympic spot would happen. National pride is important to any federation, as sports have been tied up in nationalism and patriotism since the beginning of time. No governing body would actively seek out an “imposter” (or “carpetbagger” as the Trinidadians are referring to Dick) with a viable contender at home. But in a bind with so much to lose if Williams competed the way she performed in podium training, the federation had to act in its best interest. Getting a spot was the top priority for the TTGF in 2016. National pride is a value that will have to wait.

Dick will return to Rio this August as an Olympian for a country that hates her while Williams again sits at home to watch. I can’t imagine training as long and hard as Williams did, only to have a messy situation completely beyond my control rip everything from me (seriously, Geddert, why would you ever say your athlete should’ve withdrawn a week ago?! PHRASING!). But I also can’t imagine being in Dick’s shoes, her own dreams coming true but at the expense of a teammate and friend while the media rips her apart as if she did anything aside from show up at the test event with almost no warning to have one of the strongest meets of her career. Everything good and beautiful about the Olympic experience is going to be tainted for Dick, and that’s just almost as unfair as Williams’ situation.

The story here is not one of conspiracies or villains. It’s one of conflicting interests in a situation where not everyone can get what they want. For the TTGF, it’s about doing whatever is possible to finally secure an Olympic berth. For the people of Trinidad, it’s about the pride of seeing an island-born athlete competing in red, white, and black. And for the two gymnasts who worked so hard to set themselves apart as elite athletes in one of the world’s most difficult sports, it’s about making their personal dreams come true. As with anything in life, nothing is a promise or an entitlement and not everyone can win, something both Dick and Williams learned early on as young children just starting out in this sport, which is perhaps why they’re the only ones able to deal with this situation with class and grace.

We wish both of these gymnasts the best of luck in their futures, and hope that they are able to find happiness outside of the negativity brought on by the so-called “adults” in this situation – namely the TTGF, some of the parents and coaches involved, and the media.

As a disclaimer after accusations of being biased toward the TTGF, I am personally Team Thema and have supported her since I first saw her compete at world championships in 2011. I don’t agree with the federation’s decision to reverse their initial decision and I was thrilled when she was officially given the nod. But that being said, I also see the reasoning behind their actions and no matter how they mishandled things, in the end it was nothing more than a business decision. I wish Williams had gotten the chance to compete for her country, but in her absence I support Dick, an equally talented athlete who has done a great deal for T&T in her own right. This is NOT an investigative exposé into all of the TTGF’s wrongdoings. It is a gymnastics rule-based perspective in order to clear up a messy situation at the most rudimentary level.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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154 thoughts on “The Trinidad Situation Explained

  1. Thanks for the article, I honestly didn’t know what to believe with all the articles published during and after the test event. You’re doing such an amazing job with this website. Congrats and I wish you the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The writer is ignoring the FACT that the athletes signed a CONTRACT. A legally binding agreement! Then how does the writer know who leaked the contract? Why call Thema’s mother as the leaker???

      And why did Gymter post on Twitter that they were aware that Marisa Dick was accredited on April 15, which was before even the TTGF had completed its paperwork for that.

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  2. The problem is not the girls. The problem is a federation which should have solidified, loud and clear, what the requirements would be to represent T&T, and then stuck to those requirements – period. It doesn’t matter how close Marisa and Thema were at Worlds, or whether the federation realized it erred in promising a spot when the Olympics were so far away. That is their problem, and their error, not Thema’s or Marisa’s. The point is that Thema was informed that if she scored higher, she would have the spot. So, yes, from the standpoint of ethics and fairness, I have a problem with that. To say nothing of jerking these girls around for what, two years? Lay out a path for Olympic qualifying, allow the girls to train for that spot, and may the better girl earn that spot. They could have easily used a points system similar to what Canada uses when it doesn’t have a team at the Olympics. Both Thema and Marisa were victims of politics and an inept, bumbling federation that will be lucky if it doesn’t end up getting sued.

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    • I didn’t say it was the girls – in fact, I said repeatedly that it wasn’t, lol. The federation should never have said “whoever gets the highest score at worlds gets to go.” BUT they made that rule and as unfair as it was, had every right to break it. I don’t think they realized how stupid it was to say “yes, let’s choose our athlete six weeks early based on one single score!” but it was a dumb rule and they realized it in hindsight. Had they had FORESIGHT, this never would have happened, but they’re young and inexperienced as a federation, and this is only their first year with more than one elite gymnast in contention for a spot. Mistakes happen along the way. They made a mistake and wish they hadn’t. It sucks, it’s unfair, but life is unfair.

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        • They should, but they don’t have to. Not really fair of them but if they have a reason to change their mind – i.e. if it’s a bad rule in the first place – they have every right to change it. This was a bad selection process to begin with and they realized it after the fact.

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        • I think they definitely made a mistake by making a rule and then changing it after the fact, so I do fault them for this. But as unfair as it is, there’s nothing legally binding them to it, and honestly, life isn’t fair.

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      • lol I believe “No Name” was agreeing just in a round about way at the beginning of the post. #English #somanywaystosaysomething #interpretation

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      • The Federation owns the spot, we all get that. The coach sold his charge out when he reported her injury and stated that he asked her to withdraw the week prior to the report but that does not change the FACT that they did not adhere to procedure and withdrew Thema without due process. They always wanted Dick, but Thema outperformed her in the benchmark competition. Even then the disingenuous Administrators tried to renege and give the Rio spot to Marisa. Now I feel for Marisa, she is doing what has to do as a competitor, but make no mistake Thema was robbed of due process and unselecting her was patently unfair. Where was the doctors report on her supposed injury?

        You made a very pertinent point what information did they have that Marisa was fit? Marisa once performed with a broken rib, and the same Federation had no problem with that. .But they had issue with a sore ankle and had no medical report?
        over the treatment meted out to Thema!
        And just how did you report that Marisa would be replacing Thema and was accredited on Friday night when the TTGF said they got the accreditation after Midnight? How did you come by that info for you to tweet out?

        People don’t hate Marisa, and I know of no death threats to her, People are just up in arms over the treatment of Thema!

        The TTOC wrote to the TTGF and told then they had to adhere to their own contract with the athletes and the set criteria.

        Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Did I tweet that info on Friday night? I don’t think I did. I was at the arena until late on Friday and didn’t have wifi in the training gyms/on the floor, and didn’t personally hear until Saturday.

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        • I just checked my tweets, and the first time I tweeted about the situation was on my personal account on Saturday April 16 at 10:45 pm.

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      • Yes the federation made many mistakes. Contracts were signed with athletes, this is not just a backyard game it is people’s lives they are really messing with. Both women would have trained for more than half of their lives. They cannot change rules and protocols mid air. Their irresponsible behavior cannot just be accredited to being young or life being unfair. That is not good enough a standard for our athletes. There needs to be accountability on the part of federation. They will be held accountable.

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      • They could not just change their mind..CONTRACT!!!! They had a contract with both athletes, they just cannot thrash a legal agreement. Something everyone conveniently forgets

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        • Thanks for posting the same thing three times! Did you have something to say? I didn’t get it the other times. The contract was for the girls to sign so neither could argue against the selection. It did not bind the federation to anything, which is why Thema Williams had no legal recourse when they changed their minds and instead appealed to the public. There was zero “breaking” of the contract on part of the TTGF because it only bound the girls to the agreement that if one got the spot, the other couldn’t fight it. Maybe learn about what you’re talking about before you say anything three times. 🙂

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      • Here’s the official TTOC statement on the whole thing:

        http://wired868.com/2016/05/02/we-had-no-choice-ttocs-full-statement-on-selection-of-tt-gymnast-marisa-dick/

        It pretty much approves Dick to Rio and pretty much repeat what Lauren said. The whole thing was completely distasteful but nothing was “illegal”.

        There are a couple pictures of both girls out sightseeing together… I really hope that they did not just pose for the pictures just for media sake and actually hate each others.. I sincerely hope that they both remain friends (ok maybe not bff). I think 10 yrs from now I hope they would look back and see this as being friends to each other is more important than who compete in rio.

        And yes, I do hope TTOC will punish TTGF in some ways! but not in any way that would affect the athletes.

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  3. I felt so bad 4 both girls. Thelma is homegrown and I know TT ppl will do anything to block dick from going to Rio. I’m following the story since I hVe so many family living there The federation should hVe told both girls that Glasgow was the first test and continue the points system that they did earlier this year. And I’m sure Dick would hVe come out on top.

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  4. Did I read this correctly… is the spot nomimative or NON nomimative?! Does it belong to the athlete or the nation?! Early on in your article you mentioned it belonged to the nation, but later stated it belonged to the athlete. Did I read this wrong?!

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    • The spot for the test event is non-nominative, but the Olympic spot is nominative for the gymnast who qualified for it.

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  5. The federation makes an ass out of themselves. If you have 2 gymnasts, you are actually in better shape than some others having 1 or none. You should have them trained and announce the runoff late right before the competition so they can both peak at the right time (i.e. see the American system) and you should have both of them trained hard and actually both should be ready to go in case the other is injured. My next question is are they allowed to have the other as an alternate which can be filled in case of injury (since it’s a non nominative spot). IF that’s the case, they should both be at top shape and flown to rio.

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    • Nevermind about my comment regarding the nominative vs nominative .. Guess it’s pretty much Dicks all the way now. All or nothing..

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  6. Freaking Geddert. He has such a big mouth.

    I didn’t realize so many gymnasts were representating countries their parents were born in. I wonder if they’ll make a rule about that eventually.

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    • As for Geddert, I don’t know what to say about him. He is an ass the way he said it. But then if she really had a bad day and don’t get qualified and he made it all rosy reportwise, then what would people say afterward?

      No choice is ever without risk. Supposed Dick melted down and didn’t qualify federation would look bad and TT people would scream bloody murder x 2.

      So I guess the only winning outcome would have been if William didn’t mess up in podium and also qualified, then both the people and TTGF would be happy?

      I guess really the endpoint for them is just having someone in rio b/c it seems like neither have any chance of making the top 24 for AA final?

      At the end of the day, the party with all of the blame is certainly TTGF. I think there is very little disagreement from anyone on any side about this….

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      • Oh, I totally think he should have been honest and said she had a bad day in training – but my issue was him saying “she should have withdrawn a week ago.” The TTGF had a problem with this because they were like, if you think she should’ve withdrawn a week ago and you knew her ankle wasn’t healing, WHY didn’t you come to us then? It was that he (a) waited until the day before to tell them, and (b) phrased it in the way that he did, which made them really nervous about her readiness. I think had he simply said “you know, she had a rough day in training but so did everyone else, and I know we’ll pull it together in time for the competition” it wouldn’t have been an issue.

        Williams, for all we know, may have done fine and easily qualified, and Dick may have been a mess. Anything can happen. BUT based on the evidence at that moment, Williams didn’t look prepared, mentally or physically, and Dick did. Their goal was “get an Olympic spot” and they made the decisions they felt were best in terms of making that happen. It’s never an easy decision.

        I don’t think TTGF deserves all of the blame. I think they made a lot of mistakes as a young federation in the situation of having two elites to choose from for the first time ever. They went back and forth a lot, never should’ve had the initial agreement, and should’ve said straight out that they’d wait to select the athlete who was best when they needed to submit her name to the FIG for the test event spot. Rookie mistakes. I think Geddert deserves a lot of blame because his email is the sole reason they pulled Williams. Had he phrased it in a way that gave the federation faith in its athlete, and had he responded to any of the messages they sent him, things wouldn’t have turned out this way. Plain and simple. I’ve been in the position of making a rash, uninformed decision before. When you have a deadline, you freak out. They had a deadline, they were freaking out because of his report, and without him able to clarify what he meant, they had to make a snap decision to take Williams out. Of course, this all could’ve been handled better on their part and on Geddert’s part. But while the federation made the initial mistake of announcing a terrible selection plan, it’s both them and Geddert who deserve the blame for how it all worked out in the end.

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    • This is actually quite common in all sports, not just gymnastics. There is no way to make a rule about it.

      It’s not just that Marisa’s parent is from T&T. She also has citizenship. That’s the baseline for the IOC. How would you discriminate against someone with citizenship? Countries are allowed to set their own standards for what is required for that.

      (For the record, as completely shady as it is, the American “Belarusian” girls also have Belarusian citizenship. Belarus just fast-tracked them through that path).

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      • Yes, all exactly right. The “Belarusians” got citizenship because their parents promised to pay for all related costs, meaning Belarus basically gets an Olympic spot at no cost to the federation, probably their number one reason at jumping on board so quickly. But Dick is a citizen and though raised in Canada, she never actually even had an FIG license through the Canadian federation – her one and only experience with international representation was T&T.

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  7. Lauren you are a very gifted writer, with very little bias or nationalistic bonds to any athlete or person, which makes for an amazing blog site. Personally, I’m fine with both Dick and Williams and while I knew that Dick was getting a lot of backlash I never realized that it was so bad that she received death threats and the Trinidadian media have been painting out the portrait of a villain in Dicks wake rather than a national hero. For you, never give up what you’re doing because you do it beautifully. For Dick, my heart goes out to her, and I pray that she can somehow forge the strength inside of her to not let the malice of others transition her dream into a nightmare.

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    • Thanks so much! I really appreciate it. Those in Williams’ camp are saying the death threats are fabricated, though I’ve seen them in comments on various sites. The media pretends its unbiased but the website Wired868 in particular is very pro-Williams. In one article they even mentioned something like “Dick feels everyone is ganging up on her and doesn’t have support” but then went on and like, made fun of that? And then Dick’s mother approached them with evidence that they didn’t leave until Friday night (someone had suggested they were in Rio all along) and Wired868 posted the evidence but spent the entire article trying to discredit it. It’s journalism at its worst and naturally when the media paints her a certain way, the public is going to have that impression of her which is why they dislike her so much. Very unfortunate for her.

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      • ummm our coaches were in McMurray at the time that Anita announced MD has left and on her way to Brazil 10:05 pm. She announced it to 100 + coaches at the coaches social, yes sireee !! BUT then changed it to MD leaving at 11 pm, to the dismay of our Edmonton Gymnastics Community whoops !! then Hannifer produced the receipt gas and coffee 11:53pm at Wandering River (200km) from McMurray , lie #1 , you cannot travel 204km in less than an hour, that means their vehicle was going 200 km (IMPOSSIBLE) so this is where credibility starts to ?. Then MD on 2 separate interviews stated she never tried out for Elite Canada (Team Canada) she did 2010, 2011 and 2012, these little lies were caught by the T & T people and fueled the fire, its really too bad it it only got worse from there. Gymnasitcs Canada confirmed MD competed in Elite Canada, Alberta transportation and Wood Buffalo RCMP have confirmed with out a doubt you cant travel from McMurray to Wandering River in less that an hour. I guess the guy from WIRED was giving them the benefit of the doubt until they repeatedly lied to him….oh my. I could go on and on , We here, knew TTGF never liked Thema, in fact Team MD was told that in the very first meetings 4 years ago after the unsuccesful Elite Canada Meet, we all knew it but we didnt care, we were happy for Marisa, oh she had (s) alot of support here, even when she went to test event we were so excited……and then well the MESS …..sad for Thema for sure , we went from supporting Marisa to huge disappointment as the facts keep coming out, we just didn’t realize how many decisions were made for the benifit of MD to the detriment of TW. The whole TTGF athlete contract was changed to one Meet (Worlds) highest place finisher was to benefit MD, after the 2014 Pan American Qualifers they changed the contract wording , MD placed higher than TW , but then she had that devastating Achilles Injury , Thema was healthy but they wanted MD as she had qualified higher, TTGF did not want to change it , even though there was ? from team Thema about Marisa competing 8 mos after injury “on an untested Achilles ” according to MD. So going forward TTGF for Worlds made it clear in contract , highest place finisher goes to test event. Fast forward April 2016 anonymous TTGF board member leaks email from Oct 2015 before Worlds , from VP LueShue to Pres Ricardo, talking about how worlds will be Themas last event……that at worlds it “maybe perceived that MD has an advantage by having 2 coaches (Ovideu and Anita) there….and Thema has one…..can we add Fran(TTGF member) …at no cost ?…..we are not paying for another coach for Thema. I know the Wired guy, has done his due diligence as he has contacted the very gymnastics community here in Edmonton , because we KNOW the back story…..but no other news reporter, blogger ect….has thought to do the same ? i find that curious, so i gladly speak up because there is more to the story………P.S. i dont have a girl in gym…i dont have ill will to MD or TW , but what i have is the facts as i was privy to conversations ect…..that were started 4 years ago. I have watched and cheered on MD for 6 years, but sadly cannot cheer on as an Olympian, even though i do believe shes been a pawn of the TTGF , i just wish she and her mom hadn’t lied. Sad sad time for T&T gymnastics.

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      • When will someone congratulate Marisa for actually achieving what no other Trinidad gymnast has ever done before? We may not like the way things were done but she qualified for T&T and we should congratulate her. I hope that Therma was big enough despite her disappointment to congratulate her colleague. It certainly was not Marisa’s fault! If there was no Trinidadian born gymnast capable of qualifying the same fickle loud mouth Trinidadians who are protesting now, would have been calling Marisa a ‘tru tru Trini”

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    • There were no death threats. It’s a tactic to get some compassion from the outraged public. Marisa was walking with 5 policemen to her conference in the most safe place on the island. Just to compare, Opposition Leader in her worst days had no more than 2 policemen escorting her. You want to know who is right or wrong ask a Trinbagonian who lives in TnT.

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  8. I have a question about this situation that I’ll start with an allusion/anecdote: at the 1984 Olympic Games in the women’s 3,000 meter American Mary Decker entered the final as the heavy favorite, having been the fastest all year, qualifying in first and of course being the national pick for gold. British runner Zola Budd was another runner that had been on the rise and expected to take a silver or bronze behind Decker. In the final, Budd unexpectedly took the lead, prompting Decker to surge in ahead toward Budd in an attempt to put pressure on Budd by closing in on her in a tight lead pack around the corner. However, Deckers strategy backfired because she rashly made the decision because Budd had put pressure on her, subsequently causing Decker to crash into Budd and fall out of the race, unable to finish. In an emotional moment Decker told interviewers and media that it was Budds fault and that she would’ve won had it not been for her. Anyone who watched the replay or seen the race would’ve seen that this was not the case, but American media took it and ran. The crowd booed thorough out the entire race and Budd, who led for so long and came so close to winning decided to slow down and finished 7th, saying that the crowd and atmosphere was so hostile and disapproving that she couldn’t take gold with dissent of that magnitude. Budd received a multitude of death threats. Later Decker admitted that her own inexperience in being in a pack is what caused her to fall, and that it was her fault and not Budds. Do you think Dick may do a similar thing, deciding to underperform or pull out all together because of the high level of dissent surrounding her? I hope not but the two situations have a lot of parallels.

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    • Hmm, I don’t think so…there are definitely similarities but I think Dick is going to best represent the country and herself. The thing is that neither would have challenged for a medal no matter what, and actually, neither would have even made a single final, so this is basically all about the experience and pride for T&T getting its first spot in WAG competition. Dick has nothing to lose, really, so she might as well just go in and do a good job. If anything, if she underperforms on purpose, the media will take that and run, and will probably fabricate a story about how Williams would’ve done better and blah blah blah. It’s definitely in Dick’s interest to go and to do her best. I think if she does withdraw, the public will be satisfied with that, but even if the public is all about their “Williams or nothing” nonsense, I know it’s not what the TTGF wants. The TTGF wants an athlete there no matter what, and I don’t think it will cave to the pressure of the public and have her withdraw.

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      • Lauren I am frequently on wired and trust me, if some poster, it is an open Facebook group, decides to write death threats it would NOT stay up for long. That is a fact. Marisa getting death threats seems incredulous to me, the TTGF?? lol Well that is another story, people in Trinidad hate them for their disgusting treatment of a loved young woman.

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        • Perhaps it did get deleted. But I was just on that website a short time ago, read an article, and saw the first three comments, all of which were nasty toward Marisa. These aren’t the death threats but this is disgusting behavior toward a young woman who has personally done nothing wrong. https://66.media.tumblr.com/e6f1ec3a3733f590a6f03e46f4daa275/tumblr_o6mkoaW2TI1ul4il9o2_540.png Calling her a “piece of garbage” with “no moral compass,” calling her a “nasty broad,” calling her “selfish”…she is none of those things. And that’s just the top three comments on one article. I don’t have the time or patience to read everything written about her.

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  9. This article is so biased. Did you make the same comments in the Belarus matter. The selection process was binding because both athletes had to agree to it and based on the sport integrity commission selection processes are now to be transparent. You are condoning non transparency and blatant favoritism.

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    • Actually, I wrote a whole piece about the situation with Belarus, an opinion piece following interviews with many of those involved. My opinion there was that it was unfair that the American girls should get to buy their way into spots without earning them and with zero ties to the country. That is not what happened here.

      Had the initial contract been legally binding, Williams would have had recourse in November 2015 to sue the federation for breach of contract. It wasn’t legally binding. It was a signed agreement that bound the athletes to the decision (meaning if Williams won the spot, Dick couldn’t have protested) but not one that bound the federation to remain with its initial selection policy. The federation was free to change or break the agreement and Williams had no legal standing which is why her mother went to the press to appeal to the public for support.

      This article is from the perspective of someone who knows about gymnastics and rules that govern the sport. Any opinion here is based on these rules, not on a personal bias unlike the rest of the press related to the situation. The TTGF made many mistakes along the way, but did not violate any FIG rules.

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      • Then explain why the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee had the TTFG adhere to their selection process? THE ONLY reason they have been able to trample on Thema is because of the coaches report. That and their contact with Butcher in the FIG.
        !

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        • They can face sanctions because of the Olympic charter, which is up to the TTOC to enforce. I’m glad they did. But had the TTOC not gotten involved, there was nothing anyone could do legally.

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    • What comments exactly are you referring to that should have been made regarding Belarus that wasn’t made?

      As far as the binding process or contract, until someone posts the exact document that both signed that we can look at with a magnifying glass at the languages, all we can say right now is that the shitty TTGF makes and breaks their words have someone there in rio in Aug. But it’s still “legal” as far as FIG rules are concerned. It’s never a good thing to break promises but unfortunately a lot of time it’s still “legal”. I also have a feeling that that as far as that document goes it will probably also pass the muster with the lawyers.

      As for the morality, I personally completely hate both the Belarus and TTGF. The ways they run things had only brought negative publicity so far to the sports in their countries as well as creating bad feelings for the athletes, the innocent parties. Maybe different reason for each but I think they are both crappy. I am not as forgiving as lauren in giving TTGF a free pass for being a “newbie”. Not saying anything regarding whether Williams or dicks should be there (if this were the US, the answer would have been Dicks. Everyone on US national team KNOWS exactly what to expect from the get-go: you don’t perform, you are excused from the competition. Period. Actually just see Brenna in 2015. I think she probably would have literally taken herself out and might have been harder on herself than Marta on her). Just saying that how the F can TTGF be so shitty in their thinking process. TTGF got a very long way to go …. Belarus also have a long way to go but due to different reasons.

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      • Totally agree. I give the TTGF the benefit of the doubt for basically showing how clueless they are in how they dealt with this situation from day one, and they do have a personal relationship with Marisa Dick, but at the end of the day Dick was the stronger of the two and the TTGF *still* went with Williams, until her own coach threw her under the bus with his terrible wording in that email. Had that email been worded differently, Williams would have represented the country. And good point regarding the US – there were SEVERAL countries at worlds last year that selected gymnasts who under-performed in qualifications. FOUR of those gymnasts were removed from the team and not given a spot in team finals. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s the federation doing its job by putting in only those who will benefit the team or the program. The fact that it comes off as a big controversy in Trinidad’s situation just proves that no one talking about it knows anything about the sport and how it operates.

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      • TT is lucky that they have 2 gymnasts capable of qualifying… some has only 1 or zero (Belarus) capable…. thanks to their very forward thinking process its possible that their action could affect one or both decision to continue in the future after all is said and done… I am noy sure what at this point they should do… I think they owe both a big apology… and I really hope that they ll do something to defuse the situation and maybe somehow mend the the relationships between the three to some extents bc I would hate to see either one quit b.c of what happened… thats the least they could do

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    • There is absolutely NO bias in this article. Lauren states cold, hard FACTS. There is no favoritism towards Dick or Williams, only the truth of what happened.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Lauren, please separate the article from the comments. My comments here are in no way reflective of your article or your opinions. That is an entertainment and sporting blog. But Lasana goes to great pains, as do many regular posters there to ensure the dialog is pertinent and non abusive.

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  10. I went back and look at the glasgow result. Williams was 59th with 52.466. Dick 77th with 51.499. That is a lot of clustering and super close scoring for everyone there. But that was Glasgow before Williams injury. given how close it was as well as her podium training, I really don’t think williams would’ve been able to beat Dick on rio test day.

    Again, I completely blame the TTGF. If they would have handled it correctly from day 1, then none of this would have happened b.c Williams would have been pulled before she was even sent to rio test due to her inability to beat Dick b/c of her injury limiting her. It really sucks when this happens. I am saying this not without feeling b/c I never like it when someone gets hurt and have to be pulled. Take Maggie Nichols of US. She is a major contributor and is very competitive for a rio slot but might not have the full difficulty back after injury to be on the team. It really sucks!!

    What’s even worse for everyone is for an injured athlete to keep competing when they really have no chance at getting anything done and possibly worsen their injury. If both gymnasts have regular camps and face off like in the US, then Williams might not even been sent to rio in first place. Maybe she would somehow adapt and still would beat Dick at those camps and if that was the case, at least we would know for sure that she is capable. TTGF just make it worse by pulling someone at the 11th hr and then send in a replacement at the 11th hr. Dicks had zero podium training in rio so she was lucky and her consistency edge might have also played a role there. But no one likes to have anything happen last minute if it doesn’t have to be and in this case it didn’t have to be a last minute thing. This last minute thing could have been absolutely avoided.

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    • Yeah, the federation definitely could’ve done things a lot better, and had they never come up with their “whoever is better at worlds” decision, and based it on multiple competitions over the start of 2016 as every other country did, Dick would’ve gotten the spot based on her performance ability. Dick was also injured at worlds, which probably led to her not finishing as well as she could have, but either way less than a point between the two was much too close to be the deciding factor. A shame, and perhaps if Williams wasn’t injured/limited at the start of this year, she would’ve made a better impression but I think her early performances at Houston and at WOGA (where IIRC she had two falls) really hurt their trust of her. I was surprised they ended up giving her the spot in the end.

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    • Thank you! I feel bad for both of the girls for the unfair treatment they’ve faced from the media…at the end of the day, this is about gymnastics and two gymnasts who have done a tremendous job. It’s a shame the focus has shifted to such drama.

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  11. Thank you for this article Lauren. I have withheld having any opinion on this matter because I suspected, and rightly so, that I did not have all the facts. I am happy to see T&T send a representative, ANY representative, to the Olympics to compete in gymnastics. I am sorry for all the vitriol that has come Dick’s way. I think the TTGF has been incredibly incompetent not only in their handling of this situation but also in their lack of clear communication about their decision process. Thank you for the clarification on the issues.

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    • Thank you! It’s difficult to get the clear facts about every detail in this case because so much has been misinterpreted or misconstrued by the press, but the behavior is as if Dick has done something wrong here and she hasn’t. Blame the TTGF, blame the coaches, blame those responsible for making a joke of this program over the past six months, but it is nowhere near Dick’s fault. She and Williams deserve the chance to train in peace and without this nonsense constantly on their shoulders.

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      • Lauren very good article. In my opinion, you are correct in everything that you presented here. What most people in Trinidad do not realize is that 1) Ms. William’s coach made a FUNDAMENTAL error in the wording that he used in the email to the TTGF. He created the trigger point to start with. And 2) That during the interview at the airport with Ms. Williams when she arrived back from Rio (shown on CNC3), the last question asked by the reporter to Ms. Williams (at least what was shown on TV) was: “How is you ankle?” and her response was “…my ankle is fine now. I can walk on it.” So there is, in fact, some truth behind her not being fit enough to participate in the test event. (This video can be found in the archives at CNC3 BTW.)

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  12. Why have you neglected to mention the personal link between the TTGF president and Dick’s family? Or the email that Dick’s mother sent to the TTGF executive members after her daughter lost the spot according to the TTGF’s initial agreement. There is strong evidence that suggests collusion. It does not require bias to see that the TTGF was attempting to use the topless pictures as an underhanded justification to prevent Williams going to Rio. When that underhanded reason did not work they then moved onto the injury.
    You seem not to have an appreciation for the nepotism and flagrant corruption that is a staple in Trinidadian sport and society as a whole. No one likes to unfair treatment or reneging on such significant agreements – that is why the people of the country are angry. All the support and legal action is an attempt by the society to help straighten out an injustice that is similar to other injustices met out to citizens by elites in other professional and personal circumstances.

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    • As I’ve said multiple times, I have no concrete proof of any of this – if someone sends me proof of the link between the TTGF president and Dick’s family, I’ll add it in. I don’t have any emails and refuse to use biased gossip rags as sources. I don’t like unfair treatment and I am Team Thema through all of this but I also am responsible and will not post conspiracy theories without accurate proof.

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  13. Thank you for this informed perspective. It’s really appreciated. However one point that is not emphasized here, and that has lots to do with the response of the T&T public, is the appearance of favoritism. This started with the ridiculous “topless photo” issue. It really has not played like the mere fumbling of an inexperienced TTGF.

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  14. Lauren I am yet to meet someone whose support for Thema is grounded in having a homegrown girl representing T&T. You have accused certain journalists of ignorance about the facts and regulations surrounding this issue but I daresay you have trivialized the public outcry by distilling it down to prejudice.

    The response of the TTGF at every turn was unethical and breached all that we hold true about sport. Inexperience and nerves you say? No excuse. Like you said in your article about athletes getting bumped ” that’s life”. That applies to the adults who make up the TTGF too.

    Seems to me you are not as unbiased as you imagine yourself to be.

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    • I actually don’t think it’s prejudice and there’s obviously a lot more going into it than I can write about (or that I have the knowledge/history to make it into a truly investigative and in-depth piece). My objective here is to lay out the facts that I can prove for gymnastics fans who have no idea what’s going on. Obviously everyone has opinions on this and coming from a perspective as a gymnastics journalist, this is my opinion. I am actually Team Thema and think the federation should not have done what they did. But at the same time, my point here was that they did not break any rules or laws as other journalists have suggested. Gym fans seeking out information about this are reading vastly misleading posts by people who have zero knowledge as to how this sport actually works. When I saw one article discussing the tripartite spot potentially going to Williams, I knew that Wired868 website had zero clue about the rules surrounding gymnastics. My perspective was to use the ACTUAL rules surrounding the sport to say that the TTGF technically didn’t break any, which has been confirmed by the FIG. Personally, I do wish they had stuck to their original word and personally, I do think they are corrupt and have a bias for Marisa Dick. As a fan of Thema Williams since 2011 and an early supporter since seeing her at worlds that year, I have watched her attempt to make it to the Olympics at two separate stages and am heartbroken for her that it has again not worked out. But that doesn’t change the fact that as despicable as what the TTGF did, it did not break any FIG rules.

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      • In a nation as tiny as Trinidad we are in no position to turn down top class athlete wishing to represent our country. But they must welcome that opportunity and act accordingly. We have had many athletes born to Trini parents represent us in all manner of sporting endeavor before and indeed right now in our Soccer team are many such examples.

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        • Marisa has acted accordingly. It is not her fault that other people in her life have not. Again, blame the TTGF, blame the people using her as a pawn. My only reason for getting behind her is to take away the hate directed towards her. I have many problems with how the TTGF has handled things. I have no problems with Marisa. I have a major problem with how Marisa is portrayed in the media, which is SO unlike who she is as a person. I’ve met both her and Thema many times and they are both lovely, sweet girls. Both deserve success. It’s a shame that Marisa’s came at the expense of Thema’s.

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  15. Unfortunately. .. the trinidad population has gotten to the point that we no longer want Dick to represent us…
    The statement she posted on Instagram makes this even worst..

    Truthfully I am expecting that if she does well at the Olympics she will raise the Canadian flag in place of the Trinidad and Tobago flag .

    Sorry to say but that’s how I feel.
    The entire debacle has left a stain that I truly think can never be wiped away.

    While we know it’s not any of the girls fault. We really do not want the Canadian to represent our Country for the Olympics. 😢

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    • Understandable. There are other situations in the world right now that are similar (namely Belarus) where foreign athletes are taking the places of local gymnasts and many are against it. It happens in all sports, and in some cases – like where programs don’t exist and don’t have funding – it can be great to build recognition of the sport. But in countries where local gymnasts already exist and compete, it’s very disheartening to see gymnasts from other nations come in and take up those spots.

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      • The TTFG wanted Marisa from day one. They organized everything in her favor and it backfired so they resorted to subterfuge to remove her. They attempted to do so prior to Rio and the TTOC stepped in and said NO! Abide by your criterion and contract. I am at the point where as a Trini, I would not mind having no rep at the Olympics. I know that sounds horrible and may be counter productive but at some point we have to stand for something or fall for anything. Marisa’s mother is complicit with lu Shue in this whole distasteful affair.

        And geddert? What an ass he is sending such a report.

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        • I understand why you feel this way and would feel the same way if it was my country’s gymnastics federation acting in a similar manner. I definitely do not agree with the TTGF at all, and I agree that Geddert made a terrible choice to phrase his email in the way he did only to later backtrack and say it was taken out of context. He should not have said it the way he did – it’s one thing to be honest about the state of your athlete, but it’s another to confess that she should’ve withdrawn a week ago. He caused them to panic and it gave them the incentive to replace her. I definitely blame him a lot.

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  16. Not the incentive, the opportunity. The whole episode is sordid and was done to deprive the rightful participant form earning her spot. Lue Shue had time to get a ticket as did the Dicks’ something is rotten in Denmark Lauren and we in Trinidad can smell the foul stench daily. The minute they got that email they stared the ball in motion to remove Thema. and replace her with Marisa. You may feel that Marisa did noting wrong, but her mother has much to answer for. Some may say she was just a strong advocate for her daughter, others may say it is back biting and collusion.

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    • Oh and I give you credit when you say that Marisa has acted accordingly, maybe not others in her life. I saw that and I appreciate your candor

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      • Yes, I definitely think she is a pawn in this situation. She and Thema both, sadly, though Marisa at least has the benefit of going to the Olympics. Thema is left with nothing.

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  17. Thema is her name, just plain Thema, she is everybody’s daughter here in Trinbago, or she should be. Imagine her angst, training hard, sacrificing, accomplishing all goals then having the rug pulled from under her feet. This is your child Trinbago.

    Imagine being told, keep away from drugs, do well in school, work hard, sacrifice, do not put off for tomorrow what can be done today, be respectful, be graceful, be polite, be a lady, reach for the stars….and after doing it all,you are shot down by the very people who are supposed to be seeking your well being.

    Betrayal, tyranny and corruption. “It’s hard to tell who has your back, from who has it long enough just to stab you in it….”

    A series of unfortunate incidents someone mentioned, an inarticulate coach, a Federation with ulterior motives, a rival with connections…shattered dreams.

    But look at her, listen to her, our Thema is a shining light upon a hill. In this land where children are delinquent by the droves, she exemplifies grace, and honour, I have yet to hear her tell all her truths about this sordid affair, but when she has spoken she did so with a humility that belies her age and her experience.

    Cliches are of little solace when one is in the tunnel and is unsure if the light at the end is daybreak or a freight train storming down the tracks, but our Thema’s day will come. Today she is facing a terrible mountain. She has options, she can climb it, she can tunnel under it, hell she can even blow it up. But persons of her mettle conquer terrible mountains and make them home. Thema will overcome, she will continue to conquer. But what of those who robbed her in such a vain and cruel manner?

    There is much for Trinbagonians to ponder daily. Unabated crime, inflation, a recession, falling oil and gas prices and lack of confidence in many of our systems. There is much we can learn from Thema’s strength and courage. We can fight and fight we must, but mostly we must band together and seek solutions as a team, never acrimoniously but with a steely resolve, using any legal means at our disposal, demanding accountability from all who govern, be it sporting agencies, taxi drivers, the doubles vendors, the Local and Central Government, our schools, our religious leaders.

    Make this injustice a starting point in bringing change to our culture of jump and wave and 7 days of righteous indignation. Let us develop a culture of accomplishment rather than a culture of dependence. Accountability starts with all of us, when we cannot account for ourselves then how can we demand excellence and good governance elsewhere?

    Let Thema’s injustice be the catalyst for our Trinbago Spring!~

    Sorry, not meaning to spam your site, but this is a National travesty in our eyes!

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  18. Sighhhh… the Olympics can bring out the best or the WORST in people… ;(… I for once support the firing of all those at TTGF for ruining the day of both girls. TTOC should punish them…

    My only other thought to also add is that if you are a transplant, you should be very grateful to the new country that gives you the opportunity. For the two American “Belarusians” they should really make an effort to get to know their host country as well as the national team itself. In a way I am glad they are going to Eu with 2 of the other Belarusians. Very awkward situation yes but also an opportunity to get to know each other better…

    As for Dick it probably would’ve helped if she didn’t say “Trinidadian on floor, Canadian at heart”…..I get the teenager mentality sometimes but why on earth would you want to say that?!…I mean why would you even have that mindset in first place?

    At the end of the day, I am still all for those in TTGF should get the pink slip. I am in no way blaming the girls but at the same time, I think if you can help the situation then you should do it.

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  19. Hi Lauren, thank you for your article. I have also read through all of the comments above mine. First I wish to state that I agree that when you look at the facts as laid out it seems plausible and reasonable. However you are inaccurate in your assessment of the motivations behind the outcry. T&T would have had no problems with MD representing us, indeed as stated by one comment above, we have a long history of being represented by persons with just enough generational blood to be considered Trini and they are embraced and supported. We have no problem with that. The flames here is that the process when subjected to the cold light of day, reeks of bias and collusion. Most Trinis would not have known or cared about this issue and would have blissfully supported whomevers name appeared in the Olympics next to our national flag. What has the nation fired up is the stench of injustice, fueled by inconsistent timelines, biased emails, breeches of process, high-handed attitudes and more. To assume the position that the rancor is solely about National Pride and team Thema is way off the mark as to where the anger is coming from. Another post above also sought to explain this perspective going into more detail that I won’t bother to repeat. This is a stand against injustice in all its forms. MD is on the firing line because there is a sense that she is simply regurgitating the party line and is not being honest about the situation. I know of no death threats against the young lady, but her actions and blasé attitude while faithfully repeating the TTGF talking points are what have swung public opinion against her. I have no expertise in the sport of gymnastics and I gladly defer to your assessment of the athletes abilities and performances. But I cannot simply allow this issue to be trivialized as an exercise in National Pride. It speaks to larger issues of governance, privilege, accountability and due process. Had the process seemed fair, we would not be having this discussion, everyone would have been supporting MD and Friday would still have been the favorite day of the week. Bless

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    • if I were the selection committee, I would base my selection based on probability and performance at the time right before the meet and would still select Dick because of what happen with Williams podium.

      HOWEVER, I do have this to say and fault Dick even if she is a teenager: why on earth does she have to make comments like “Trinidadian on floor, Canadian at heart”? I mean seriously? wtf are you thinking girl? Why do you want to say that to a host that provided you with the opportunity otherwise you don’t have? Don’t you know that it will come back later to bite you?

      This also apply to the Belariussian girls. Why can’t you be more grateful and show more appreciation? So as far as why Dick doesn’t deserve T&T love, I fully understand it and actually put her at fault greatly for that….. Consequences of what you can say come back and haunt you later aside, I think they all need an attitude class and adjustment

      A lot of people say the US gymnasts when they give interview they sound like boring like they have some sort of interview coaching. They probably do. Which is why they usually don’t say resentful or hurtful things even though they are teen. (Some do anyway once in a while unfortunately though).I think they all need some serious prep on think before you say and act b/c it can come full circle later.

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  20. Why has FIG removed Ricardo Lue Shue’s name as assistant coach in 2015? Were they trying to hide their bias? You do know that Donna Lue Shue was also lobbying parents of a private school where her husband works to support he Canadian Gymnast. You can’t scrub the internet!

    This blog is not balanced, too many omissions, seems convenient that so many important details have been left out.

    Marisa is on record saying that “It’s cut throat time” after losing. She is not innocent in all this.

    “This is Google’s cache of https://database.fig-gymnastics.com/public/gymnasts/biography/21623/true?backUrl=. It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on 30 Apr 2016 03:32:56 GMT.
    The current page could have changed in the meantime. Learn more”

    Please follow the link – http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Ahttps%3A%2F%2Fdatabase.fig-gymnastics.com%2Fpublic%2Fgymnasts%2Fbiography%2F37293%2Ffalse%3FbackUrl%3D

    Like

    • Again, my article isn’t an investigative report into every wrongdoing by the TTGF. It was meant to clear up the BASIC facts for gym fans who had no idea what was going on. I didn’t go into every detail because people are having a hard enough time understanding the most basic and rudimentary pieces of this puzzle. Obviously there is more that goes into it, but already at 3000 words for this piece, I chose the direction it had to go in, which for me was (a) basic facts of the situation, (b) TTGF is to blame, and (c) Thema and Marisa were pawns the whole way.

      My main reasoning for writing was to show that Marisa is NOT the villain the press is making her out to be, i.e. as she is portrayed in many wired868 articles including this one (http://wired868.com/2016/04/28/cut-throat-gymnast-marisa-always-believed-she-could-get-themas-spot/) which misconstrues an innocent email from her mother to libelously claim that she always planned on setting out to take Thema’s spot, and then goes on to also libelously accuse her of stealing her eponymous skill from another gymnast. It’s defamation at its finest, and when the press demonizes someone in this way, they are painting a picture of her for the public, which is why the public is reacting with disgusting comments calling her a “nasty broad,” a “selfish b****,” and “a piece of garbage” – these were the top 3 comments on one wired868 article. I didn’t even have to read past the first group to find hate. I’ve met both Marisa and Thema multiple times and they are both lovely. Both deserve to train in peace without this IDIOCY following them every step of the way. FIND A HOBBY, people. Attack the TTGF but leave the girls alone.

      My perspective of the matter is fully gymnastics-based, which is why I used FIG rules and their own confirmation that TTGF didn’t do anything wrong in the eyes of the “law” so to speak. PERSONALLY it is my opinion that the TTGF acted heinously and that they are to blame for this and likely also acted in favor of Marisa when they should have been impartial. But as I said, this piece was to explain to gym fans the bits and pieces of what happened and then share my opinion as to what this means in the context of the business of the sport of gymnastics. It wasn’t an exposé about TTGF. My site is about gymnastics. I share rules, I support gymnasts, I try to explain complicated situations in a way for people to better understand them. I do not support drama and catfights and nonsense because it takes away from the sport. If you want exposés about TTGF and all of their conspiracies over the past couple of years, that’s what gossipy clickbait rag sites like wired868 are for.

      Like

  21. Lauren, I have already been a fan of your site for almost a year (how I never discovered it before that, I don’t know), but this article in particular is excellent journalism in most every sense. Your research, thoroughness, grasp of the facts, ability to distill them down to the essentials, and your neutrality (objectivity, in my opinion, is humanly impossible, but you do a exemplary job of remaining neutral) are all highly admirable. The comparisons to Belarus (and in general the trend toward fast-track citizenship-for-hire increasingly utilized by countries such as Azerbaijan to build their WAG program with second-tier Russians) is very effective, and helps put the T&T situation into proper perspective. Your knowledge of and passion for the sport are always evident, but above all, your writing is extremely clear, efficient and interesting. What you produce on your site is equal to or surpasses any gymnastics coverage anywhere (at least in English, I can’t testify to other languages), including IG and IG (funny how they both have the same initials). I just can’t understand how you have enough free waking hours (even with your other contributors) to produce what you do (or how you learned so much about the technicalities of this sport at such an age while never having trained, competed or coached it). I think you are a significant asset to the sport, and so just like I pay IG & IG to get their material, I’m now a monthly subscriber. Please keep on keepin’ on.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I am just noting Lauren, as an investigative journalist myself, you did not treat with the particular comment made by Monica adequately. Monica, unlike you or any of us, was actually THERE when the announcement was made by Marisa’s mum that her daughter was: “off to Rio.” The details in her comment can of course be verified if you look hard enough. Mr. Lasana Liburd apparently went to some lengths to verify same….why haven’t you? You attempt to write an unbiased article, then pepper same with support for Marisa Dick….understated, but quite evident, as you failed to do due diligence and research both sides of the debacle. In your article, you accuse other writers of bias, but then proceed to be biased yourself. There is no way Marisa Dick should be in Rio representing TT. Not if one looks at the history of this entire shebang. The emails and connection between Marisa Dick and the TTGF you neglected to verify, do exist…..any respected writer or journalist would have thoroughly investigated that and not claimed: “if someone sends me proof of the link between the TTGF president and Dick’s family, I’ll add it in.” As a writer, you get the proof first, before the fact, not add it in if the information drops in your lap. You say you support Thema, but your bias is showing.

    Like

    • I don’t think I even replied to her comment because I probably didn’t see it. It’s hard to keep up and unlike all of you, this drama isn’t running my life.

      Again, my article isn’t an investigative report into every wrongdoing by the TTGF. It was meant to clear up the BASIC facts for gym fans who had no idea what was going on. I didn’t go into every detail because people are having a hard enough time understanding the most basic and rudimentary pieces of this puzzle. Obviously there is more that goes into it, but already at 3000 words for this piece, I chose the direction it had to go in, which for me was (a) basic facts of the situation, (b) TTGF is to blame, and (c) Thema and Marisa were pawns the whole way.

      My main reasoning for writing was to show that Marisa is NOT the villain the press is making her out to be, i.e. as she is portrayed in many wired868 articles including this one (http://wired868.com/2016/04/28/cut-throat-gymnast-marisa-always-believed-she-could-get-themas-spot/) which misconstrues an innocent email from her mother to libelously claim that she always planned on setting out to take Thema’s spot, and then goes on to also libelously accuse her of stealing her eponymous skill from another gymnast. It’s defamation at its finest, and when the press demonizes someone in this way, they are painting a picture of her for the public, which is why the public is reacting with disgusting comments calling her a “nasty broad,” a “selfish b****,” and “a piece of garbage” – these were the top 3 comments on one wired868 article. I didn’t even have to read past the first group to find hate. I’ve met both Marisa and Thema multiple times and they are both lovely. Both deserve to train in peace without this IDIOCY following them every step of the way. FIND A HOBBY, people. Attack the TTGF but leave the girls alone.

      My perspective of the matter is fully gymnastics-based, which is why I used FIG rules and their own confirmation that TTGF didn’t do anything wrong in the eyes of the “law” so to speak. PERSONALLY it is my opinion that the TTGF acted heinously and that they are to blame for this and likely also acted in favor of Marisa when they should have been impartial. But as I said, this piece was to explain to gym fans the bits and pieces of what happened and then share my opinion as to what this means in the context of the business of the sport of gymnastics. It wasn’t an exposé about TTGF. My site is about gymnastics. I share rules, I support gymnasts, I try to explain complicated situations in a way for people to better understand them. I do not support drama and catfights and nonsense because it takes away from the sport. If you want exposés about TTGF and all of their conspiracies over the past couple of years, that’s what gossipy clickbait rag sites like wired868 are for.

      Like

      • When I saw your blog post and proceeded to read, I thought you may have been the first drop of clarity in an ocean of smog, but you assume quite a lot for a person who claims to present facts. You assume that this “drama” is running my life for instance. You were right in one thing, you offered a perspective only, not total facts. When you put yourself out there claiming nuetrality, then use one side of the facts only, even though someone presents alternative and contradicting “facts”, which you ignore conveniently, readers will draw a conclusion and rightly so, that you lack the “facts” to refute the information presented to you. Again: your slip is showing. If you are, as you say, basic, step out of the arena where the big kids play and learn from those who know. Gossipy, clickbait rag sites indeed…..you clearly have no clue.

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        • Show me one fact in the above article that does anything beyond stating what happened. My opinion weighs heavily in the second half of the article, but everything that happened from worlds through to Dick winning an Olympic spot has zero baggage attached to it. It’s merely a step-by-step list of what happened with no judgments or claims supporting either side. The PERSPECTIVE comes in later on, and is based in gymnastics rules and procedures and history, because that is what my readers want. I’ve said three times directly to you now – if you want a more in-depth investigative expose, this isn’t the place for you…so why, pray tell, are you still here? 🙂

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  23. Hello Lauren, since you were waiting for “proof” to be handed to you, why not check out the link and the information attached….Bias is no good here!!!! You have now lost credibility as a writer.

    Good Morning FIG!!! Good Morning TTGF!!! Care to explain? SHARE THIS. LET THE WORLD SEE THE DISHONEST ORGANIZATION THE TTOC BOWED TO PRESSURE FROM. A group so tacky, on the threat of litigation and the TTOC’s decision would falsify information on their official website because they think folks in TnT are too stupid and simple to pay attention when clearly they don’t understand the power of the medium we use. Read it and weep.
    From Lasana Liburd:
    <>

    Except dear FIG and TTGF ppl know how to use technology the FIG and TTGF have not even begun to understand. There is a site that allows the retrieval of web page history. Thanks Caroline Taylor! Surprise surprise it was changed in the last few days! See your paid blogger ended up backfiring in so many ways. (She talks way too much. Next time get someone who knows how to fade into obscurity lol) How is it you keep shooting yourself in the foot?

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    • Do you have an issue with reading comprehension? You have lost credibility as a person with a brain. As I’ve said, this is not an investigative exposé of TTGF. I’ve said multiple times that I believe they are in the wrong and have a bias toward Marisa. I AGREE WITH YOU. My website is about gymnastics and things that directly concern the sport, and I don’t have time to go into a full investigative piece about everything the TTGF has done. That’s why I kept this to the basics in addition to my opinion based on the rules that govern this sport. I almost didn’t write ANYTHING because drama surrounding the sport doesn’t concern me or what I do, and frankly, I don’t care. Stuff like this happens all the time in EVERY SPORT. You’re clueless if you think it’s unique to T&T gymnastics. But because I had so many questions from gym fans about what went on, I felt I had to provide some basic understanding. I know that there is 100% more to the story but I’m not the person to write about it and don’t have time to concern myself with petty little problems that literally everyone in the sport has forgotten about already.
      Write the exposé yourself if you’re so bored you feel the need to comment multiple times.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. To everyone with harsh words, please come up with more concrete facts as harsh words by itself just breed more discontent and disinformation. We need more information and not just harsh words.

    Just as a long time reader on here, I actually don’t mind exploring more on either side. I do see the google cache regarding LUE SHUE ricardo as the assistant coach. That google cache was for april 30. My question is: was his name as assistant coach has been on there for a much longer time or was it just added recently to give him the “official” title so he can accompany her at test event and then remove after test event when not needed for that purpose? If we can establish his name as ass coach has been there for a much longer period before and is now just removed then we can maybe start to explore the theory of personal coach being also on TTGF with conflict of interest… I am not as tech savvy so I haven’t been able to get a much older cache of that page but if someone can retrieve a much older cache version showing that he was the ass coach say back in 2014 or 2015 that would be good.

    As for Dick time of arrival, it shouldn’t be hard to determine that since you have to have a ticket to board a flight. So should be able to establish fairly easily the exact time of arrival and departure. Sure, there is always a tiny conspiracy theory of dick actually somehow already knew about everything (having either clairvoyant or was part of the big conspiracy) and was already in rio like a few days before at a secret podium location so she didn’t need podium training and still hit and she also bought two tickets with the most recent one to cover her track?! But really, how hard is it to establish when she landed in rio?

    I don’t think Lauren would mind posting additional information as they are avail but they need to be more factual, and not just hearsay.

    One last thing: if Williams can’t perform (possibly due to injury) and Dick can, conspiracy theories aside, and this is the question only TT people can really answer (and please be honest with yourself), if Williams was injured and didn’t have the ability to perform and qualify (and possibly even worsening her injury by trying too hard and still couldn’t get it done or if she got her injury worsened and maybe qualified but then can’t do it in rio in aug) and dick was not injured and was in shape to get it done, would you still put up Williams no matter what? Please be honest about this… I would give you the perspective as someone from the US: The US national team would not put up anyone with injury or underperform! In 2012, Mckayla Maroney got a busted toe but was still able to put a world class vt so they let her do that as she proved in podium she still had the ability. But they took her out of fx and put kyla in even though kyla fx was not as strong. If you can’t perform because you don’t have the ability, then unfortunately you will get pull if you have someone that can performed. I think the athletes themselves know this even better. Last year, Dick was injured and this year it was Thema.

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    • Also just want to say, as TT people, if you are completely again anyone competing under the T&T banner, unless they are born and raised in T&T, then this should be voiced and codified into TTOC charter. This would then apply to everyone and not just thema or dick. Obviously by codifying this there’s missed opportunities of having anyone else outside with higher level to represent if home athletes doesn’t have the needed ability. But this choice as a whole will have to be made and apply evenly to everyone…

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  25. From http://wired868.com/2016/05/02/ttoc-vote-for-dick-marisa-will-create-history-for-tt-gymnastics-at-rio-olympics/

    “But the gifted gymnast (Dick), who was the TTGF’s 2015 female gymnast of the year, EXECUTE WHEN IT MATTERS, as she sealed a historic Olympic place for her adopted country on April 17”

    Conspiracy theories aside, that quote above from wired868 said it all. Sure, there is a possible conflict of interest and conspiracies, but if you can’t execute on the important day then you are out. Williams did better in 2015 in Glasgow so she was chosen (even though in retrospective going by one score 6 months before is really a bad criteria). And in april 2016 Marisa hits when it mattered. Of course we can never ever eliminate the possibililty that Williams will come back from 6 falls in podium to no major mistake to grab the spot, but I can tell you this, if you ask Marta Karolyi or heck even Valentina Rod., their decision would be quite clear: if you can’t performed WHEN IT COUNTS you will get pulled.

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  26. This page is intense. I’ll start off by saying that I am Team Thema, and I am not Trinidadian. I think it’s a shame the way in which she was denied the opportunity. I also appreciate this blog post as I do with the many others you provide, especially the Q&Q series.

    Couple things to note. Understandably, your blog is not an investigative report. The potential conflicts of interest, self-serving behavior, bias, conspiracies, etc. need not be a main focus of the blog. What’s problematic about the blog post is that it claims TTGF’s actions were not against “law” by focusing only on FIG rules with no attention to the actual laws at the center of the debate, i.e. the agreements with the gymnasts and local Trinidadian laws. You conclude that this inexperienced, well-intentioned organization can do as it please without following the rules that it created or the local laws that it is bound by. No one cannot speak of whether TTGF was legally bound or not without analysis of these laws and contracts.

    Furthermore, you conclude that TTGF made a “business decision.” The term business decision is a term of art in corporate law and signifies that a decision was made in good faith, i.e., no self-dealing, self-interest, etc. was involved. It does come off as biased to make and then vehemently support such a conclusion while admitting that you don’t know all the details (and at the same time criticizing the bias press for reporting without all the details and knowledge). It’s also not fair to your readers to represent yourself as an authority on the situation when that is not the case.

    What’s also problematic is that while doing the above, you choose to present TTGF as if it is an inexperienced, well-intentioned, and unbiased organization that fumbled the selection process, but then severely chastise the passionate Thema fans who are reacting to perceived bias and single out a small number of death threats to vilify the large majority of well-meaning fans.

    I wish the blog focused primarily on an objective argument in support for continuously evaluating the contenders and ultimately selecting Marisa and a call to support Marisa, without commenting on the legalities or motivations of TTGF’s actions or admonishing the fans.

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  27. I’m not surprised that Lauren has received a lot of negative criticism from Trinidadian ‘bloggers’. Whenever anyone challenges their opinion or deigns to post an alternate take on the situation, a Trinidadians first instinct is to always ‘attack’ (in most cases the attack is a personal one) and accuse them of being biased. The backlash is almost certainly worse if a foreigner is the one posting a different take on things. You can post proof or facts to back up your claims but the outcome is always the same. Attack! Attack! Attack! Most Trinidadians can’t debate on anything because its always ‘us’ vs ‘them’ whenever a controversial and complex topic surfaces. The same cultist attitude can be seen whenever someone brings up the subject of politics and religion. To say “I respect your opinion but…” is beyond them. A different opinion is quite often seen as an open threat or a challenge to their intellect.

    The focus here should be on he TTGF, who should have handled things a bit better but as Lauren explained (with credible sources), what they did wasn’t illegal. Instead the focus has shifted toward Marisas ethnicity, pigmentation, hair colour (yes…really) and country of birth being another stick to beat her with which, believe it or not, is standard procedure for a lot of Trinidadians when faced with issues such as this. Had Marisa been black, the issue wouldn’t have been that serious. A few grumbles and murmurs here and there, nothing more. The logical option would be to lay the blame at TTGFs door but theres always that select group who will say “She got it because shes white/foreign/lighter skinned” and the flames are quickly fanned. It boils down to this: Williams is black whereas Dick is mixed, closely resembles a Caucasian, has a different accent and was born in another country. There are plenty of things for a Trinidadian to be irate about there. Blaming the TTGF alone is just too easy.

    None of this surprises me in the slightest. Its also interesting to point out that nobody in this country cared about gymnastics before all of this happened. Not the public, not the media…nobody. That alone should tell you something. Its pretty safe to say that if Williams was chosen by the TTGF to go to Brazil, she would have gone, participated and arrived back in Trinidad with little or no fanfare at all.

    Its not just about the ineptitude of the TTGF. Its also about a black girl being passed over for a fairer skinned ‘foreigner’ with an accent. It plays perfectly into the average Trinidadians hang up about race and pigmentation. Trinidadian society has always had a huge chip on its shoulder and they always have their proverbial pitch forks at the ready whenever something like this crops up. If race is not involved, they’ll find a way to make sure it is. Thats just how things work here…

    I’ll probably receive a lot of replies questioning my sexuality, race, patriotism and whatever else but this is simply what they do here.

    Liked by 3 people

    • What absolute rubbish! First of all NOT all trinis focus on race just as not all Muslims are terrorists. STEUPS!
      There is a debate, you know a lot about trinis so I suppose you are a trini who is different from the rest of us and you do not attack, and you do not see race, nor do you lack debating skills correct?

      Go sit on your pitchfork.

      Like

  28. Thank you for this piece Lauren.
    The attacks on Marisa’s family is overwhelming in my opinion; especially when there’s no proof of wrongdoing. To me, Wired868 has done everything in their power to fuel a hate and race war over the issue. It’s very disappointing and one cannot voice their opinion [on Wired868] without being attacked and bullied.
    I have watched in amusement at how both the so called reporter and his contributors descended into a witch hunt against Marisa’s family: the unnecessary reporting of Mrs. Dick’s gas bill on the night they were called to Brazil; a score sheet of the young lady’s participation in a 2011 event and other stuff that is irrelevant in this case. They are hell bent on digging dirt, even if none exist!
    Worse of all is that a teenager is being made fun of and bullied. However, despite the push by Wired868 and their contributors to ridicule Marisa, there are those who support her.
    Marisa, if you’re reading this: good luck to you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your opinion. It’s truly been nothing but going to the absolute best of his ability to find anything that can “prove” Marisa is at fault for something when the truth is that she is not. Disgusting and I’m glad some are able to look past those heinous tactics to recognize Marisa’s achievements!

      Like

    • A race war? Girl this is T&T we only fight over Carnival and Party time. Marisa’s family can not prove one credible death threat any more than Donald Trump can convince people the hair on top of his head is real

      Marisa has no right representing T&T at the Olympics at the expense of Thema. There was collusion and corruption, there was interference and there was a breach of a contract. Some may try to claim the contract was non binding, but that is baloney, just ask the TTOC!

      Like

  29. But Lauren precipitated an attack on Themas’s mother suggesting she leaked emails to the T&T Press. and this was based on what I ask? What evidence this non investigative piece base that assumption on?

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  30. In the midst of all of this controversy and conspiracy, seems like everyone is losing sight of what is important with regard to the athlete performance itself

    Back in 2015 Glasgow, Williams hit and so she was selected as she did do better than Dick.

    In April 2016 podium, Williams had a really rough podium on top of the ankle injury and did not look like she was going to hit.

    Again, if this was in the US or Russia or just about any other national team, the decision would have been to place Dick into the competition in 2016.

    I actually don’t mind exploring the conspiracies and conflict of interest issues and if there are more facts (not hearsays) about the conspiracies then it should be brought up and investigate objectively.

    But at the end of the day, you can’t denied that you have to select the athlete based on performance on the day that it matter.

    Let just reverse the situation: if marisa scored higher in 2015 Glasgow but then did horrible in rio podium training, would you continue to let her do the qualification? of course not.

    Does any conspiracy theorist here also truly believe in their heart that had this situation been reversed, that TTGF would have kept marisa in if she had a bad podium like Williams did?

    I understand this whole thing about TTGF and what the girls signed with them. Yes, TTGF should not have made that bad criteria initially, etc. But in the end, if you shows that you can’t hit when it counts, then it’s hard to objectively justified being able to compete.

    It seems like no one here disagreed that Williams was on a very precarious line of looking like she’s not going to qualify (unless we now says that geddert lied and she didn’t really have any fall). Even the pro thema camp has not disputed the fact that she had a very bad podium training and is definitely in danger of not qualifying.

    Even conspiracy theorists can’t do away with the evidence that Williams looks like she was not able to put in the needed performance in podium training. And I am saying this not because I am anti Williams or anti Dick. I just want to emphasize the point again regarding how athletes should be selected. And this is what any of the national team such as US or RU would do: if you can perform when it counts, you are deselected, conspiracy theory or not aside.

    Like

    • “In April 2016 podium, Williams had a really rough podium on top of the ankle injury and did not look like she was going to hit.”
      No one talks or wants to talk about this. It’s as if it doesn’t exist while there are videos of her performance available for all to see.
      Don’t mention it though; you’re stepping on toes!

      Liked by 1 person

    • No one here also disputed the statement or disclaimer that TTGF made that if the athlete couldn’t perform then they could be replaced. Would anyone here wants it the other way where if the athlete couldn’t perform or perform badly, that they should be kept in competition regardless? If you do, then how will you expect the sport to get to the next level? That would be as bad as any sort of other conspiracies.

      Conspiracies or not can’t dispute the fact that Williams did not have the performance that would look to confidently do what is needed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, her coach aid she would have qualified on her worse day! And you are entering into the realm of speculation! How do you or anyone know how she would have performed ON THE DAY? Nostradamus???

        How did the TTGF know that Dick would have performed better after all that travel and no chance at acclimatization? Nah! it stinks, Thema was robbed and abused by her Federation.

        They say she had a sore ankle and replaced her, but previously they allowed Marisa to perform with a cracked rib?

        It stinks!!! And matters not how you spin it, the stench has formed a shroud over a tiny country sick and tired of injustices.

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        • I’ve seen her “worst day” – she had something like a 47.5 all-around. That was a couple of months ago. The athlete with the lowest score getting into the Olympics had like a 49.5. Thema’s “worst day” would not have been a good enough competition to make it in, and by a couple of points, a huge margin where most of these spots were determined by tenths and even hundredths of points.

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      • No one claims that they would know for sure of anything in future. Sure, Dick could have failed to qualify. BUT YOU CAN’T IGNORE WHAT HAPPENED IN PODIUM. If we take it at face value what geddert said and it seems no one disputed his podium assessment (although we all have problem with the way he phrased it), that performance does not have high probability of getting it done or show that she can get it done the next day. Do you really believe that someone can go from 6 falls to ZERO fall the next day when they have problems for the whole week before? Given that williams best ever score was like 52.466 (I am having trouble finding when that score was since it might have been at a smaller meet and maybe lauren can fill in this) or 51.85 at WOGA early 2016 and the needed qualification score of above 49.5, it’s pretty clear that with 3 falls, she’s out. (and we are just talking about fall deduction only. When you fall it’s always more than just the 1pt fall deduction, you get additional deductions on forms, skill you didn’t perform due to the fall on top of the fall deduction itself, etc), along with multiple other deductions that everyone get throughout their routines. So even just 1 or 2 falls she is already flirting with not qualifying.

        As for the statement ” she would have qualified on her worst day” that was made months ago and not at the time of podium training. I don’t believe geddert (or anyone sane) would ever make that statement after what he saw at podium. And as Lauren said, her worst score of 47 something in early 2016 would not be enough.

        The whole point again I am making is that if you just go strictly by performance criteria, what happened at podium training if this was anywhere else, the athlete would be replaced, whether it’s thema or marisa or dare I say, even biles (no matter how improbable)….

        As for Marisa performing with a cracked rib, was there any proof of a disasterious podium or qualification that took place while she has the injury and after that they still let her compete regardless the next day? If athletes show that despite injury they can still perform then that’s different (although not ideal). Like I said Maroney had a busted toe but still show a world class vt in podium so she still got to compete. If maroney couldn’t perform her vt in podium, do you really think they would let her compete anyway? Williams was not able to show proof that she could perform to the level needed for qualification. Selection is based on probability. Are you willing to bet your house on someone going from 6 falls to 0 fall the next day when they have problems for the whole week and not just one day??

        I have already made my viewpt on how they should disband the TTGF. I can’t say enough how much I hate them!! Since as you say no one is Nostradamus, you have to go by probability in your selection. As far as probability goes, based on the podium training performance as well as the assessment of the problems ongoing for the whole week, the probability that Williams could pull it off does not look good.

        Like

  31. Here’s the crux of the matter for many of us – MD is not a four year old child. Unless she is completely irrational, she knows/has known all that went on to get her that spot. She signed a document, she knew that she had to give it her all, and she knew that TW placed higher when it mattered for selection. She knew all that transpired about topless photos, disciplinary committees, etc. She knew it all. Whether she decided to keep quiet to see how it played out, or whether she actively lobbied to get the spot, she was party to the events. She is not an ‘innocent bystander’. You can argue that it was her mom, the TTGF, or whomever that plotted/conspired/dropped the ball/whatever, but it matters to us that she comes across as self-serving. And we can’t swallow it.

    As a nation reeling from the chaos inflicted on us by viper-tongued politicians and others who benefit unjustly, there is no more room in our hearts for more injustice. Saying “I just want to compete” equates in our national psyche as “I don’t care how I get there, I don’t care about fairness, I just want to be on top.” And we cannot support it. While this should be a happy moment for us as a country, we are sickened by the whole mess. And it’s hard to shrug it off and say ‘at least we in the Games’.

    Like

    • Exactly!

      .And the US holds their trials for all Olympic events, in fact you can be the world record holder and perform poorly in the trials you don’t get selected. but we little third world country, banana republic we are just savages, back biting and using pitch forks resorting to racial issues, if you are to believe some.

      Like

      • If you believe in what you say regarding trials and performance not up to expectation and not being selected even if you are record holder and you didn’t perform on the day it counts then how do you justify what happened at podium training and then having Williams performs anyway?

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  32. The real underline issue is that Williams was not of the social class, nor skin colour that was wanted to represent this country on a global scale. They didn’t care what it took, nor how it was done, just get a more “acceptable” image up there. That’s the real center of this whole conflict.

    Like

  33. Lauren you are full of it! The fact is you are constantly guessing. there was no real reason to pull the girl, they pulled her and they got their charge in there. Imagine a member of the TTGF acting as coach? Shameful and he had acted as her coach before.

    You can always look back at her past poor performances and assume that is what she would have done again, FACT is Marisa was no guarantee to make it either. The reason for pulling her was injury….and I explained before Marisa competed with a broken rib, so why the double standard? I hope Marisa falls each time she mounts the apparatus, She has no right to be the rep.

    She did not earn that right, Thema did, and it was stolen. They were trying all along to remove her despite her meeting their qualification benchmark, silly or not

    This site is biased against the truth

    Like

    • You don’t look at one result. You clearly know very little about this sport. You look at results over time for consistency. Marisa’s results were all within a 1.5-point margin. Thema’s were in a five-point margin. That means Marisa is the better competitor, period. Thema is actually the better GYMNAST with better skills, but Marisa is the better competitor. If you try to argue this, we’re done talking because I’ll straight up know you’re a fool with nothing but a one-track biased mind fighting your life away about something that doesn’t concern you. Get a hobby.

      Like

      • Again you are missing the point. The angst is about the process. The TTGF shouldawouldacoulda does not factor. If you have declared, erroneously or not, that this is your process, you are expected to abide by that. That’s the contract. Changing the goalposts after you did not get the result you wanted is what we’re upset about. Thema could have fallen and failed in Rio and we would have been fine. On to the next one. But she was robbed of that opportunity to dig deep and try. You can present all the scores in the world but that is the core issue and only issue that matters. I posted earlier that had MD earned that spot non of this would have happened, she would have been our adopted daughter and her name tattooed on the flag. It not what was done, but how it was done that’s the problem. I am also tired of the generalization of Trinis not willing to debate and are just out to attack. I’m Trini and I’ve attacked no one. The TTGF may have done no wrong under Fig rules, but they’ve violated their own criteria and process and have irrevocable damaged the psyche of a nation of people who have a right to lash out at the injustice. You cannot question their right to do so, nor can you condem them for their passion. I have stated in the previous post when the angst turned against MD AND IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE as some have commented. Bless

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      • FilmTT, I see if that’s what the people want. Just want to add one more thing and this is something you might just have to answer not out loud but just to honestly think about, Supposed thema and marisa position was switched around, i.e. marisa got higher score in Glasgow but has now faltered at podium just right before the qual, would T&T people have supported her and gone to bat for her like they would with thema right now, keeping the contract and everything else constant? And if not, then why not?…

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  34. At the end of the day the TTGF still sent THEMA to RIO (and she went to RIO injured). She was not 100% and switched with an athlete that was 100%. If her coach did not send that email Thema would have still been at Rio. If she got injured during podium severely, after her 6 falls the TTGF would have been blamed!

    Like

  35. A couple of observations to make:
    1) I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of your articles get this many comments, especially from those who don’t normally read/comment.
    2) I don’t think I’ve ever seen you get this much hate. Keep your head up, Lauren, you wrote a great article!

    3) The contract: the winner signed a contract which would stop them arguing with the federation’s decision to swap to the other gymnast, on the occasion that occurred; this protected the federation legally. Therefore, the federation has done absolutely nothing illegal.
    4) What the federation did is, IMO, immoral in the way they handled it (it was too confused, too last-minute, and too poorly planned which caused unnecessary heartbreak and conflict to the girls and the public) but not immoral in the concept, which is very standard in sports: take the athlete who is performing best closest to the date. The problem lies in their methods, as they made a promise they couldn’t be held to keep. Should you forego promises? No, but in this case, the stakes were very high and the promise was unreasonable. Every individual can determine whether or not it is immoral for themselves, but those are the arguments for both sides.
    5) Geddert did a really bad job of protecting his gymnast’s position in the test event, didn’t he?

    6) Congratulations Marisa on qualifying T+T for the first time in gymnastics!
    7) Congratulations Thema on all your hard work, I hope you’re proud of your achievements!
    8) Congratulations to both gymnasts for handling this incredibly bungled situation with poise and grace, compared to those in the comments here and those in the federation…

    Liked by 1 person

  36. “You have lost credibility as a person with a brain” – you tell ’em Lauren! Wow, this article obviously touched a nerve with some people. But you know what, haters gonna hate. Don’t let them get to you. You are not only a gifted writer, but your dedication to the sport – and to explaining the intricate details of the sport in ways that fans and non-fans alike can understand (if they have a brain!) – is fantastic. Blogs like yours play a huge part in lifting gymnastics from that slightly obscure, once-every-4-years attraction to a sport that has real credibility; giving these peerless athletes the recognition they deserve. As a die-hard, lifelong gym fan, I have massive respect for what you and other gym bloggers do. Keep up the awesome job. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  37. @FilmTT,

    Did you read the piece? I doubt it very much, if you can say this:

    “If you have declared, erroneously or not, that this is your process, you are expected to abide by that. That’s the contract. Changing the goalposts after you did not get the result you wanted is what we’re upset about. Thema could have fallen and failed in Rio and we would have been fine.”

    No, you are not expected to do anything. It was not a contract. If it was then they could be sued, which they haven’t been, so there was no contract in a legal sense. Lauren explained why in a comment higher up. The goalposts were changed because in hindsight what they said would be their process was ridiculous. They had no experience doing this before and made an error. Is that unreasonable?

    You also seem not to want to acknowledge the fact that TW’s coach’s assessment was very damaging. There are football players who are ruled out of games because they have the flu! This is someone’s coach saying that he doesn’t think she’s ready to compete. What would you have done if you were in the TTGF’s shoes? What if she had suffered a career-ending injury? You would be fine and happy with that?

    I am not disputing that the way in which the situation was handled was bad. As in all things, it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. The TTGF bungled this situation badly and all of them should step down.

    I have to say I’m surprised by this sudden clamoring for justice. When poor people children are victimized, I don’t hear many of us clamoring for justice. Race and class are always factors in T&T. Thema is lucky she has relatives in the media who can use their connections to bat for her. And if MD was a dark skinned black woman, the protests would’ve been less strenuous, even if MD had made the treacherous statement “Trinidadian on the floor, Canadian at heart.”

    It’s a mark of how irrational we can be as a people sometimes that you would write that this incident has “irrevocabl(y) damaged the psyche of a nation of people.” GTFOH… Politicians and business elites raping and robbing this country year go, year come has irrevocably damaged the nation’s psyche. MD being chosen over TW is a passing bacchanal. You all are funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. I’m late to the party here and I may be way off with what I’m about to say, but I get the impression that Trinis value honesty, loyalty and fairness above winning. So even if it was ridiculous that the TTGF decided to choose their athlete on a single score so far in advance, and even if the contract wasn’t legally binding and the TTGF had every right to change their decision, it was still wrong.

    The possibility of Williams not doing as well as MD is secondary to the fact that the TTGF violated the values of honesty and fairness when they ‘changed the goalposts.’ Likewise, MD violated these values by going along with TTGF’s decision rather than disavowing it. Thus it’s more of a moral issue than it is a technical one. It’s bigger than gymnastics.

    But again, that’s just based on the impression I get from the comments on this post. I could be way off.

    Like

    • You’re absolutely right – I explored the gymnastics side of things, because that’s what my readers were unsure of, but there’s a whole other side of things that I didn’t go into (aside from kind of in my disclaimer at the bottom). Morally I’m against everything that happened, and don’t agree in how the TTGF runs things. I do excuse Marisa, however, because not one high level elite athlete in the world would turn down an opportunity like this if it became available. It happens all the time and you can feel horrible about something but still take the opportunity. I don’t know of a single gymnast on the planet who has ever given up a spot because she came by it “unfairly” and at the expense of a teammate or friend. Back in 2012, two of the top contenders for the Olympic gold all-around medal were Jordyn Wieber (who had been at the top of the world in this sport since age 13 in 2009) and Gabby Douglas (who didn’t join the race until she was about 16, right before the Olympics). They were the two “guaranteed” to get the two spots available to the Americans in the all-around final. Except in qualifications, a third gymnast, Aly Raisman, one who in no way was in the running but just happened to peak right when she needed to, came in and was the top qualifier for the U.S. women. Gabby and Jordyn were right behind her, but with Aly already claiming the top spot, it meant Gabby or Jordyn would miss out. They were separated by about a tenth with Jordyn, the girl who had basically been promised an Olympic finals spot since she was 13, didn’t qualify. Aly, who rightfully earned the spot, was torn between being elated that she came up as the underdog to blow everyone away and being gutted to see Jordyn not get that spot. Many people wondered if Aly would “give” the spot away to her teammate, but as horrible as she felt, there was no way in hell that was going to happen. All gymnasts work harder than we mere mortals can ever imagine. And when an opportunity like the Olympic Games comes up, that takes priority for anyone who has put in that work, no matter how unfair the situation may be. Rather than being a villain, Marisa’s situation is quite a bit more complex, as she is likely feeling horrible about how her good fortune is playing out – at the expense of someone else who she knows has worked just as hard. I’ve spoken to both of these girls many times over the years, dating back to 2011, and can guarantee no matter how they’re portrayed in the media, they are not like that.

      Like

      • Exactly! I also enjoy the wavelength we are both on (remembering the Aly-Gabby-Jordyn AA debacle of 2012) – I took forever with my comment and have been reading the whole thread since before 9pm and didn’t refresh so I’m just seeing this comment now 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Back in the good old Soviet days, correct me if I am wrong, but they have switched athletes around in spite of the qualification results due to “injury” (I think you all know what I am implying)….. Nowaday that doesn’t happen much anymore. Actually, I am not even sure if it’s “legal” that Aly could have willingly given that spot to Jordyn. Or if the FIG will just put in the next reserve. I think they would have just put in the next reserve if aly couldn’t or wouldn’t compete for whatever reason so she couldn’t had given her friend Jordyn the spot even if she wants to. Lauren, the spots in event finals including AA are all nominative right?

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  39. I just cannot believe that T&T citizens/fans are raging at a 17-year old girl and not FUMING at the actions of one man, John Geddert (if they are, there is WAY less ‘press’ about Geddert’s idiocy than attacking a young athlete). Reading all of this material, I have no doubt that TTGF made a very unethical decision, as a response to, frankly, a stupid decision to name their Test Event gymnast after ONE competition 6 MONTHS before Rio, but the words of an internationally-renowned coach “6 falls…injury…she should have withdrawn a WEEK ago…” are pretty damning for Thema’s case and likely all they needed to hear to revoke her spot. The ‘contract’ TTGF had the girls sign, apparently made it such that the GIRLS could not protest after the Test Event gymnast was named – nowhere in the contract (from what we know), did it say that TTGF couldn’t just change their minds. The girls also committed to accepting being replaced in light of injury and “consultation with my coach, etc”. Geddert’s terribly written email was the nail in the coffin.

    Again, TTGF went about it terribly (starting with the original selection criteria, all the way up to late-night emails trying to get hold of Geddert), and the situation does whiff of TTGF’s bias in favor of Marisa. However, I will not fan the flames of conspiracy and will review just concrete facts that have been presented (the ‘contract’ that only bound the girls and not TTGF, Thema’s terrible podium of which there is video, Geddert’s brutal email, and that no FIG rules were broken. The ethics of the situation a separate issue, and do warrant discussion, and my heart breaks for Thema.

    You’d think Geddert would’ve learned his lesson – running his mouth (in this case, his emails). I remember in 2012, after Jordyn missed the all-around, he blasted the FIG publicly saying the 2-per-country rule was a joke… funny nobody had that opinion when the US was being shut out of events due to the Soviets and Romanians, etc, and I doubt he’d have felt that way if Jordyn, Gabby and Aly had finished 1-2-3 and someone who wasn’t Jordyn were left out. To top it off, Jordyn has come forward to tell she performed at the Olympics with a fractured leg (which, Geddert obviously knew, but didn’t send an email to Marta like he did in Thema’s case, ostensibly because he assumed Jordyn could still compete/demonstrated she could the way McKayla did with the broken toe).

    If TTGF learns anything from this debacle, they should i) not make ridiculously short-sighted nominative rules for important events like Olympic Test Events, ii) set up “mini-camps” or send their head-to-head gymnasts TOGETHER to more regional-type competitions (e.g. WOGA Classic, etc) and name the competitor at the 11th hour (it’s how the big players do it, and it obviously works). As far as implied corruption within TTGF, well, that is an in-house problem that T&T needs to deal with, before more Themas and Marisas get caught in the middle.

    Lastly, thank you Lauren for attempting to lay out what is KNOWN (with respect to proof, paper trail, FIG rules, etc.). The amount of commenting by people who don’t know anything about the sport are likely some of the same people who, in 2012, ran their mouths saying Aly “stole” Jordyn’s all-around spot… when the qual order was actually Viktoriia, Aly, Gabby, *Jordyn, Aliya.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Pingback: For Trinidad & Tobago, the Olympics Gymnastics Furore Is About Perceived Corruption · Global Voices

  41. From what I gathered, Thema would never compete in Trinidad for nations also, international competitions are hard to come by, funding is an issue, and scheduling.
    Trinidad is still evolving in the sport, mistakes were made, they were confronted with a plethora of issues. Geddert really killed it though. Reporters in Rio observed and reported Geddert was still “spotting” TW on podium, which is unconventional for this type of event.

    Like

    • Yeah, I also saw him spotting her…generally when an athlete is spotted on various skills it means she is not ready to compete and is actually dangerous to put an athlete out there on various skills if she’s still being spotted on them. One of the only times I’ve seen an athlete spotted at podium training was Nastia Liukin on bars in 2012…her coach/dad was still spotting her dismount which I thought was bizarre, and then at nationals she ended up not competing it at all, and at Olympic Trials, she fell on it, so chances are it could’ve been an issue of preparedness if she was still getting assistance from her coach.

      Like

  42. Pingback: Programa 005 – Éramos pocos y parió Deva – Podcast Asimétricas

  43. Corruption aside, if a gymnast is unready, being spotted, has fallen, give up the spot! Why are you holding onto it like it’s yours thus subjecting your body to possible injury? Geddert wrote that email for a reason- he knew there were observers seeing her being spotted and falling!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, even with all of the corruption on part of the TTGF, it could’ve been very risky to put Thema in. No matter how badly she wanted it…any athlete is willing to fight through pain and injury to make her dreams come true, but at some point a coach has to step in and say “she can’t do it.” Geddert basically DID say this and then said “but she wants to try anyway” and that’s a no-no. If you don’t think your athlete is mentally or physically prepared, she should not compete. End of story.

      Like

  44. I actually read through several outside posts including several ones also from wired and other sources. I do see why TT people are fed up with a lot of corruptions and injustice, (which does not help with what Dick said on her social media as well as some of her action and her mom). I am not going to belittle those things and deny that not of that ever happened b/c I think Dick/her mom probably have done distasteful things. There is a lot of heresays what they did, and probably not all are true but there are probably a several true things.

    Corruption and subjectivity are never good. Which is why at the end of the day, the selection needs to be based on objective criteria which are known to have worked. The athlete has to demonstrate the ability to perform when needed (and that means not 6 months ago, but NOW) and also not based on one score at one meets but multiple scores on multiple meets. If they can’t perform, or in danger of worsening their injury near the time of competition, then they need to be withdrawn. This is what any federation/team coordinator would do and pretty much all gymnasts understand this. There are a ton example of gymnasts that did so well for years and they get injured right before olympic and see their dream vanished. There are also numerous examples of gymnasts that did well but then failed to qualify or perform poorly on the day needed and was taken out of the competition due to failed qualification or by team coordinator.

    I am quite sure that there is nothing in that contract that says we will let you compete no matter what. I am almost certain that the contract does have something that say in the event of injury or if you can’t perform we have the right to replace you with the alternate. No one disputed that thema had some ankle injury. No one disputes that she was not performing well on podium training as well as the whole week before (this wasn’t just a one bad day kind of thing).

    If thema was on the us national team, I am pretty certain that marta would have taken her out. If you say, well, the contract says she won that place so she should compete no matter what even if she is injured and have shown that she can’t performed, you will see how ridiculous that sounds. Because dick and her family has done several things that are distasteful and maybe also things that hints on collusions too, I do see how you would not want her to represent you. Now consider this scenario: IF THEMA’s ALTERNATE WASN”T DICK BUT ANOTHER T&T BORN AND RAISED OR ANYONE ELSE, WOULD YOU HAVE PROBLEM THAT THEY REPLACE THEMA? Somehow I think not…

    What TTGF has done so far they deserved to be disbanded. And I actually do think that dick did do a lot of distasteful things and her mom/coach done things that are considered conflict of interests and possibily collusion). But at the same time, you cannot promote a sport with sheer blind wrongness of having an athlete compete no matter what if they have shown that they cannot perform when needed. (and please don’t tell me again that how do I know that dick would not have failed and thema would have been able to do it anyway, going from problem all week and 6 falls to ZERO fall the next day. Are you yourself going to bet your house on that?)

    TWO WRONGS DOESNT MAKE ONE RIGHT!! Look at it from the correct objectivity when determining who compete, people!

    If you have a problem with dick competing for you then you should say it aloud: I don’t want to see dick be a representative for TT because she/her family, etc has offended us irreparably with what she has said and done. I actually think that straight answer would have been more acceptable.

    But you should not say that she shouldn’t compete because the spot was “stolen” as if somehow she was replaced by dick anyway even though thema has demonstrated that she would have been able to confidently get the job done. Because thema didn’t demonstrate confidently that she could when it matters.

    DONT MASK YOUR REAL REASON YOU DONT WANT DICK TO COMPETE BEHIND THE BAD QUALIFICATION PROCESS and THE STUPID CONTRACT.

    CORRUPTION SHOULD NOT BE USED AS AN EXCUSE TO GET SOMEONE TO PERFORM ANYWAY WHEN THEY HAVE DEMONSTRATED THAT THEY CAN’T CONFIDENTLY GET THE JOB DONE.

    YOU CAN CERTAINLY USE CORRUPTIONS and CONDUCT UNBECOMING IF proven serious enough to take someone off the national team.

    But you are not going to be able to disqualify or show that corruption somehow cause another athlete to fail to perform and should not be replaced by the alternate when they show they can’t reasonably expect to perform!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • FYI:
      ‘I don’t buy the argument that the public outrage is anything other than a sound declaration that “wrong” is just “wrong” and must never be rewarded.’Jacqui Sampson-MeiguelTuesday 3 May 2016 at 2:24 pm
      ‘This is just so wrong on so many levels, Marissa Dick was adamant she would get to Rio by ANY means. #despicableYOU’ Lu Lama Monday 2 May 2016 at 11:12 pm
      ‘win or lose She will never represent me….simply because she stole from one of my people and if people don’t get that, then they don’t understand what NATIONAL PRIDE is……#Themaornobody’ Antoinette Lewis, Monday 2 May 2016 at 10:40 pm
      ‘THIS. Is. So. Unfair. And. I. Precieve. It. Too. Have. An. Element. Of. Tonya. Harding. In. It. I. For. One. Not. Supporting. Marisa. Dick fire. Bun. The. Ttgf’ Anthony St. Bernard Monday 2 May 2016 at 8:44 pm
      ‘Marisa’s ‘ cut throat’ comment was a foreboding of her warped and corrosive mindset that she and her mom were prepared to go to any lengths to achieve their Rio objective. The end justified the means as far as they were concerned…. If bid rigging , match fixing, spot fixing ,doping and nepotism in the award of scholarships are frowned upon as criminal behaviour , then selection rigging as in the case of Marrissa Dick over Thema Williams is equallly as reprehensible.’ anthony lewis Monday 2 May 2016 at 3:26 pm
      ‘FIG , TTGF , Pelletier, the Lue Shues, the Dows, the Dicks, they all had it all figured out. And they protect each other. Despite Dick’s people spinning innocence, there is awareness of the true situation in Alberta, and the gymnastics community feels pure disgust for those involved in deception.’ Canadian Thema Fan Monday 2 May 2016 at 1:56 pm
      http://wired868.com/2016/05/02/ttoc-vote-for-dick-marisa-will-create-history-for-tt-gymnastics-at-rio-olympics/

      ‘Cut throat time eh? How disgusting can the Dicks get. They are behaving as though that spot was hers from the start. Smdh yes.’ Adrian Brown Friday 29 April 2016 at 3:40 pm
      ‘This young lady comes over as manipulative and cunning, both her and her mother…but the TTGF has thus far, displayed such blatant nepotism and bias I cannot help but wait anxiously to see what theTTOC’s decision will be in this matter…in the meanwhile we cannot let this rest…’ Robin Stanislaus Thursday 28 April 2016 at 4:21 pm
      http://wired868.com/2016/04/28/cut-throat-gymnast-marisa-always-believed-she-could-get-themas-spot/

      ‘Reading this article jus proving how they cheated Thema. Even after the girl earned the spot they still conspired to take it from her at all cost. And why cost Marissa cries? The point is apart from being Trini you didn’t earn the spot in the right way. There were clearly A lot of ‘string pulling’ for you.’ Hashina Yacoob Friday 29 April 2016 at 11:13 pm
      ‘This whole thing is playing out like a season of the game of thrones and hanifa is quite comparable to the Queen Cercies’ Fabian Adams Friday 29 April 2016 at 6:34 pm
      http://wired868.com/2016/04/26/marisa-does-not-feel-anyone-is-fighting-for-her-the-full-leaked-email-to-the-ttgf/

      Like

  45. http://wired868.com/2016/04/17/geddert-marquez-and-the-ttgf-cheated-thema-and-risked-marisas-health/

    Geddert reply to why he thinks TTGF overreacted. It does make a few valid points regarding podium training. It, however, does not address or explain why he made the statement “I asked her to withdraw last week”. The report does give more details regarding her falls and says that 3 falls were in 1 routine but the next one she did she was “nearly flawless”… But if he didn’t make that statement “I asked her to withdraw…” as well as if he would have given a more detailed assessment like she fell 3 times in one routine but the next was nearly error free, rather than just saying 6 falls in 3 events summarily, I think thema would have got to compete.

    The major problem is that statement “I asked her to withdraw”. That statement is what majorly trigger it. (as well as the lack of more detailed assessment)…

    Given that as Lauren said, it’s unusual to see spotting during podium, my gut feeling is that thema would probably still have a rough time qualifying. The other thing also is that a coach, even as careless in wording as geddert, would not make the statement “I asked her to withdraw” unless things were not really heading the way he thinks they should be heading (even if he clarified things later). But from the more detailed explanation of multiple falls in one routine but the next is near flawless, I could give thema a very small benefit of doubt that she could conceivably hit, even though I still feel that she much more likely not hit. (And again if this were the US national team, marta has taken people off for falls during podium training even if they somehow correct it in the next routine and I never recall seeing coaches spotting during US podium training)

    Seriously, geddert, are you like not really thinking much when you write your reports? Don’t you know you can’t undo many things? If anything maybe thema should also sue geddert?

    As for TTGF, I think that report was all they needed to act. It is not an unreasonable thing to initiate replacement protocol of the athlete if that’s all you read. Now as far as if TTGF did indeed fulfill the reasonable obligation of contacting the coach, we will have to wait for the inquiry (they said they did, geddert says they did a half ass job trying)… I can’t speculate b/c there needs to be more established facts (ie email and phone records).

    Just really saddened by the whole things myself….;(….. It’s really, truly the “adults” that has messed it up for the athletes…

    Like

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