Gymnast Thema Williams opens athletics academy in Maraval

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Thema Williams –

Former Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams is writing a new chapter of her sports business career by opening the Thema Williams Athletic Academy on Saddle Road, Maraval.

The 26-year-old award-winning athlete opened the doors of her gym, which caters for children one and up, last Sunday.

A statement issued on Friday said the gym aims to create “a safe space for all-rounded childhood athletic development.”

With the slogan “What We Do Not Have, We Build. Whatever We Imagine, We Create”, Williams’s academy offers a variety of options for class participation, including Mummy and Me classes, Children’s Fun Fitness sessions and acro classes and open gym sessions.

Gymnast and dancer Thema Williams. – Photo Courtesy Thema Williams

Williams says her goal is to contribute meaningfully and positively affect TT youth by providing a healthy sporting environment.

“We intend to create initiatives that foster teamwork through sport and culture. We envision an environment in sport built on the pillars of accountability, equity, integrity, knowledge and transparency.

“I started by offering private gymnastics classes during the pandemic, and word quickly spread throughout a network of reputable people. Before I knew it, I had five clients weekly,” Williams said.

She became so passionate about her calling that she used limited resources to make equipment from materials that were immediately accessible.

“I made my first balance beam with wood from my home storage unit, created my own mats using foam and glue, and sewed leather covers myself.”

By the end of 2021, her academy had enrolled over 100 students. With the rapid demand, Williams decided to set up her gym in Maraval to accommodate the community’s steady growth.

In attendance to celebrate the gym’s opening were Williams’s family and close friends, along with parents and children.

Under the supervision of her team, boys and girls engaged in an afternoon of non-stop activities on various gymnastics circuits, including the balance beam, tumbling mats and vaults.

Williams hopes to formulate a robust gymnastics programme to nurture talent while providing a pipeline of opportunities for local gymnasts through international partnerships – including student-athlete programmes and athletic scholarships.

Williams competed internationally and finished 59th in the all-around at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in 2015, which helped her qualify for the Olympic Games in 2016.

However, she was overlooked by the TT Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) and Canadian-based TT gymnast Marisa Dick was eventually selected. For this “biased and flawed decision,” the TTGF was ordered by the court, in November 2018 to pay Williams $223,000 in compensation. However, she was only paid in October this year.