Local gymnast Thema Williams, currently training for the 2016 Rio Olympics Test Event scheduled for April 16-19, has found herself at the centre of somewhat of a controversy over an Instagram photo from a year ago.
Known for her artistry on the vault, bars, beam and floor, Williams was the subject of an email to Newsday yesterday by a “Georgette Heinz” who complained about “lewd photographs” by the 20-year-old which was seen by her daughter online.
The composite photograph, emailed to Newsday as well, shows a smiling Williams in three shots topless side-on facing the camera with her arms and hands covering her chest. In the comment section of the photo, Williams states: “Being a black woman is an honour...
always” The parent, however, called for an investigation to be conducted by the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation.
“Absolutely disgraceful for a young lady who supposedly represents the best that Trinidad and Tobago has to offer.
What kind of example is this? Should this be the standard that we uphold our future Olympians to? I, for one, will no longer support the sport or the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation if they continue to allow this to happen,” the parent said.
Speaking to Williams yesterday from her Michigan home in the US, the gymnast expressed shock that the photo has resurfaced and the furore surrounding it.
“The intention of the post is simply art.
I’m artistic and a very creative person. I do a lot of art and design and I’m into the artistic side of the male and female anatomy.
I do tribal pattern designs and the people I’m staying by in Michigan even allow me to paint my bedroom walls. It’s really my way of letting off steam and part of my interest when I’m not in the gym,” she explained.
“My hope is that people will appreciate the body you have because there is this perception that your body supposed to look a certain way.
But considering the (young) audience (of Instagram followers) they probably won’t understand the message.
Shortly after I posted it I removed it.
This post was a year ago and I removed it due to the possible implications,” she added.
Asked what could be the intention of someone bringing the photo in the public domain a year later she said: “Whoever screenshot it had been waiting and chose to bring it out at a critical moment.” Does she now regret posting the photo? “I wouldn’t say I regret posting it. I want to help people be creative. I regret the impact it had on my young followers.
It could have been expressed in a manner more appropriate to the entire audience.
And for that I am truly sorry,” she declared.
And with the 2016 Rio Olympics Test Event less than two months away, Williams, who trains five days per week, said preparations have been coming along well.
“Everything is fine.
It’s difficult some days with all the external pressure that has come with my success, however, being at the top is never easy — there will always be snakes lurking in the grass. I’ve accepted that, and my only focus this year is my goal,” she said.