The decision effectively ends weeks of speculation regarding whether Williams or her alternate Marissa Dick would be handed the spot after topless photos of the pair surfaced from random members of the public.
Williams, who is battling to recover from a knee injury, must prove her fitness though in time for the event or it would go Dick who would take her spot.
According to the TT GF, “Williams qualified along with Dick for the single Trinidad and Tobago country spot at the World Gymnastics Championships held in Glasgow (last) October.
Thema attained the higher of the two scores, and the opportunity to represent Trinidad at the Test Event.” The TT GF media release continued, “in accordance with the athlete agreement, both gymnasts must submit a medical report/clearance to compete, in the weeks leading up to the Test Event - to ensure their continued fitness.
“In his 2016 January to March monthly reports, (Williams’ coach John) Geddert advised the Federation that the young gymnast has not yet been able to train landings on Vault and insert a key skill at this time in her Floor routine because of a knee issue. This situation will be monitored closely to ensure that Thema will be competition ready for her Test Event.” The Federation had drawn the ire of the public who perceived them to be victimising the 20-year-old over her topless photo which was leaked to the media weeks ago.
The Federation also refused to allow Williams to compete in a Level 10 meet in the United States, which did not please her American coach.
In turn, Geddert accused the local governing body of thwarting the 20-year-old from gaining crucial preparation for the forthcoming Test Event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next month The Federation had to name its final choice for the Test Event by today or risk paying a fine of 1,000 Swiss francs (approximately TT $6,650).
The TT GF is adamant that the current saga - about the Olympic Test event - is not related to the issue of the photos but on the fitness levels of both Williams and Dick.
A passionate TT GF assistant treasurer Donna Lue Shue, with regards to not allowing Williams to take part in the US meet, said in a telephone interview yesterday, “there was a competition two weeks ago in Canada, which was earmarked by the Federation for her to compete in.
“Her coach said he would not let her compete because it was too close to the Olympic Test Event and, now, he wants her to compete at another event which is even closer to the Test Event, and is at a lower level (Level 10).” Lue Shue noted, “it’s in (a written contract) that both cannot drop a level and, if we had let her compete in it, Marissa could have sued us (the TT GF).” “Marissa came fourth and fifth in her (respective) events at the same meet in Canada,” stated the TT GF assistant treasurer. “It’s a fact that since Williams has qualified, she hasn’t been consistent leading up to the Test Event while Marissa has.” Lue Shue said the organisation was being pressured by people who were not considering the fitness levels of both athletes but thinking of the topless photos issue which has not be adjudicated on.
“People could bash us on social media but the truth will prevail,” she declared, explaining that the Disciplinary case concerning the photos has been shelved.
She also dismissed the notion that race was being considered in choosing TT ’s representative, saying she would never be a part of something like that.
Williams’ godmother, popular entertainer Nikki Crosby, during a telephone interview yesterday prior to the TT GF announcement was livid, “it’s ridiculous, from the feedback we’ve been getting on social media.” Saying that Williams is “an athlete who has been caught up in the politics”, Crosby was adamant that “the fight down has been ‘real’.
Gymnastics has always been a very high-colour, an elitist sport.” Dick was chosen by the TT GF as its Sports Personality of the Year 2015 and Crosby insisted, “What are (Dick’s) qualities to be Sportswoman of the Year? People are pissed, it’s like a joke gone too far.” In related news, the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs yesterday issued a press release yesterday that seemed to indicated a hands-off approach to the entire fiasco but gave a veiled threat that they would consider withholding funds from “an NGB (National Governing Body) for Sport if it cannot resolve its internal disputes professionally and maturely, or if executive decisions are not in keeping with best sporting practice or the tenets of the National Sport Policy.” The release indicated that the Sports Ministry, “along with the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT ), having consulted with the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTO C), advises the public that as Government entities, the Ministry and SPORTT may monitor, but should not intervene in disputes within National Governing Bodies (NGBs) for sport.
“NGBs are independent sporting entities whose autonomy is sacrosanct under the Olympic Charter and general principles of sports law.
Intervention from Government in these processes may incur country sanctions and threats of sanctions by international sporting organisations.
“The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago will continue to support NGBs in the conduct of their affairs and in the best interest of the athletes and support staff who represent Trinidad and Tobago.
We hope for a fair and speedy resolution to all disputes and for good governance in sport to be normalised in the affairs of all NGBs.”