Two burning national sporting issues look sorted out

Two burning national sporting issues look sorted out


USA-based TT gymnast Thema Williams

Issues relating to athlete funding in swimming and Trinidad and Tobago’s representation at next month’s Olympic Games Gymnastics Test event appear to have been satisfactorily settled.

One day after the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation said it was clearing USA-based TT gymnast Thema Williams for sole representation of TT in the Olympic Games Test event, a joint statement from the National Amateur Swimming Association and the National Sportt Company has determined that monies submitted by parents of swimmers selected to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the upcoming CARIFTA Games in Martinique are to be returned.

Gymnast Williams, determined cleared to represent the nation at the Aquece Final Gymnastics Qualifier at the Rio Olympic Arena in Brazil next month had faced the threat of sanctions from the Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) after topless photos of both herself and alternate Marissa Dick were widely circulated.

Concerns had also been heightened after the athlete was prevented from competing in a Level-10 meet in the United States, a situation that displeased her coach John Geddert.

And TTGF assistant treasurer Donna Lue Shue explained that the issue might have been a legal one.

“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 said.

“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 TTGF).”

“Marissa came fourth and fifth in her (respective) events at the same meet in Canada,” stated the TTGF 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.”

Williams is battling to regain full fitness, however, as she tries to recover from a knee injury.

The Amateur Swimming Association meanwhile met this week with officials of the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SporTT) to discuss matters pertaining to the management of state funds allocated for this country’s participation at the Carifta Swimming Championships in Martinique from March 22-26.

ASATT had requested a TT$3,000 contribution from athletes selected for the Carifta team, citing a need to supplement its funding for future tournaments. As one of the National Governing Bodies (NGBs) under SporTT’s purview, the state company raised a concern regarding the ASATT’s request to the Carifta athletes, given that all the costs associated with the team’s participation were being met by SporTT.

It was agreed that the $3,000 contribution requirement be withdrawn and that athletes who had already made the payment would be fully reimbursed.

Looking ahead to the next tournament – CISC Swimming Championships – in Bahamas from 16-19 June, it was agreed that SporTT would cover the cost of athletes who have achieved the ‘A’ qualifying standard (podium/final time) in light of ASATT’s limited remaining state allocation for the financial year.

Athletes who have attained the ‘B’ qualifying standard (minimum qualification time) could choose to attend at their own expense.

However, should the ‘B’ standard athletes medal in their events, their expenses would be reimbursed. It was also agreed that ASATT would review and determine the optimal use of their subvention balance in relation to contingent sizes for the rest of the financial year.

Further, to mitigate against future shortfalls, SporTT’s Business Development Unit indicated that it intends to work alongside the swimming body to attract private sector funding and sponsorship deals to supplement the annual subvention.