Persona non grata

Trinidad’s first Olympic gymnast, 18, is despised by her countryfolk

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This summer, 18-year-old Marisa Dick will become the first gymnast from Trinidad and Tobago to represent the island nation at the Olympic Games. But as a result of an extraordinary controversy involving a heated rivalry, racial politics, alleged collusion, and topless selfies, it appears that much of the small island nation would rather Dick not compete at all.

Unlike Dick, who is a Canadian-born dual-citizen with mixed heritage, rival gymnast Thema Williams is black and was born in Trinidad. Williams qualified for the Olympics by beating Dick at the World Championships in Scotland last year, but was pulled out of last month’s test event in Brazil hours before it was due to begin, ostensibly because of an injury. Williams, it turns out, was not actually injured. But since Dick stepped in and qualified, it means that Dick, and not Williams, will go to compete at the Olympics.

In the run-up to qualification, matters were complicated when an old Instagram post surfaced of Williams covering her bare chest with just her arm. It appeared Williams’ standing could be in jeopardy, but then a similar topless photo of Dick emerged and both cases were dropped. Many in Trinidad appear to suspect collusion on the part of the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTOC), the organization that made the call to switch the gymnasts, and the Dick family — especially since the vice-president of the TTOC is said to be a close family friend of the Dicks’, and will reportedly accompany Dick to the Olympics as one of her coaches.

Dick is also famous for performing a unique mount onto the beam while doing the splits, a technique that has been formally named after her. Watch the video of her recent performance at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto below.

Read the full story at The Daily Beast.

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