TTGF to appeal High Court ruling

Thema Williams

The Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) plans to appeal a decision by a High Court judge, who has ordered the body to pay gymnast Thelma Williams $200 000 in damages.

Williams was awarded the settlement by High Court Judge Frank Seepersad on Monday, after she took action against the TTGF and four members of its executive – David Marquez, Akil Wattley and Ricardo and Donna Lue Shue – for unfairly replacing her with Marisa Dick as T&T’s representative for a 2016 Olympic qualifier.

Williams had sued the TTGF for $11 million.

However, TTGF president Andy Gomez-Burke has made it clear he intends to appeal the judgement.

“As the president of the council, I can say we are going to appeal. Unless one of my beautiful council members can give me $200,000 to go and pay Thema Williams, I am appealing this matter. I think the judge erred in law.” Gomez-Burke said.

Gomez-Burke said physiotherapists who gave evidence in the case said Williams told them she had been injured on March 29, 2016, in a level 10 event. She was warned not to go to that event, he said, because they knew she was experiencing difficulty with a sore ankle.

He said while the TTGF simply did not have the money to pay Williams, it would be absurd of the body to ask Government for the money.

He revealed that since the controversy began in 2016, the TTGF had not received a penny in subventions. Gomez-Burke said most of its funds are earned from entrance fees to events, and most of the money earned last year was spent on defending the TTGF in court.

“I don’t sit with a bank account with $200,000. And unlike football that gets lots of subvention and grants from FIFA, we don’t get grants, period.

“I cannot now go and tell the Minister of Sport I think she should go and pay a $200,000 subvention to Williams. It would be absurd of me to think that I could ask the Minister or the Prime Minister or even the taxpayers to go and pay Williams that money. Or should I hold a fundraiser and ask 200,000 people to pay me $1 each?” the president questioned.

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