THINGS GIRLS DO EXCLUSIVE
"I was really young, I was only two years old my mom said I was running around the house doing somersaults and hanging off of things. She didn't want her house getting wrecked so she put me in gymnastics, we started off in parent and tot classes and then I just excelled from there. "
Marisa Dick, whose mom was born in Trinidad and Tobago, lost her dad when she was five-years old. She always knew that she always wanted to represent the country of her mother's birth. The Canadian-born gymnast who would one day compete at her first Olympics representing the country of her mother's birth and now hers, knew she wanted this more than anything else.
Even though she was eliminated in the qualification round for the Women's All-Around gold that in the end went to Simone Biles, she was honored and excited to make her own history of being the first Olympic gymnast to represent Trinidad and Tobago.
MD: I was most excited to train with them and just see how hard they work in the gym everyday, if they ever had hiccups in training and how they deal with them.
TGD : Where does your inspiration come from?
Marisa Dick: As a young gymnast my inspirations came from gymnasts like Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson and as I became older my inspiration changed. All of a sudden I was a role model and an inspiration to all the little girls I trained with in the gym and now to younger gymnast from all over the world and now they are my inspiration. Every-time I get asked how it feels to be a role model to younger gymnasts I get choked up, it is such an honour to be an inspiration to younger athletes because at one time I was once like them looking up to someone like me now.
TGD: You’ve made history twice this year – first when your move was officially added to the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique's (FIG) Code of Points. How did you come up with the idea of doing this move and how long did it take you to perfect the move?
MD: At world championship in Glasgow in 2015 I got 'The Dick' named after myself which received a 'C' value. On floor there are a serious of leaps you can do ex: split jump, split leap, switch split, switch side, switch half etc. Before I was just doing a split jump mount onto the beam and that had become easy for me so my coach said why don't you try a switch-split just for fun and so I tried it and it ended up working. We then found out it was not in the code of points so I trained it for probably 6 months at least doing 20 everyday.
At the Olympics I ended up submitting a second mount into the code of points which got named after myself 'The Dick ll" which received a "D" value. This mount is a switch half, it's fairly similar to The Dick but you do a half turn in the air before landing on the beam.
TGD: How did you prepare for Rio? What does a typical day look like for you?
MD: I would wake up around 8:30am, shower, eat breakfast and drive myself to training for 10am I trained all four events every day just doing routines after routines after routines. I trained for four hours a day then I would go home eat some lunch take a nap and go see my personal trainer and we would do just gym work, body strengthing and conditioning for about two hours, I'd come home eat dinner shower hang out with my family for a bit, head to bed and wake up the next morning and repeat.
TGD: What were you most/least looking forward to at the Olympic games?
MD: I was most looking forward to competing as the first Olympic gymnast for Trinidad and Tobago and to get my second mount named after myself. Hmmm I think I was least looking forward to the loooooooong flight over to Rio, I was just so excited and I just wanted to get here and start training!
TGD: 2016 must have been an emotional rollercoaster for you. First, not being chosen to go, then being chosen, then the firestorm that came with your selection. To be precise, not having the general support of the country you’re representing in the Olympic games. How have been dealing with the highs and lows of this journey?
MD: Yes, this year has definitely been a challenging year and an emotional roller coaster with very high highs and very low lows. After Worlds once I found out I wasn't going to be the chosen athlete to represent my country I was absolutely heart broken, everything I had worked for the past seventeen years striving to achieve this goal was over and my dream was over. I was so proud of Thema and really excited for her to be living the dream that we both wanted but it was really really hard to deal with. Going into the gym and training after I had found out I wasn't going was hard because I had lost all hope and drive, I just mentally couldn't make myself to work as hard as I always did. I had moved on to just competing level 10 at provincials, the trials for our Canadian national championships and that's when I had got the call that my country needed me to fly to Rio and compete to qualify for the first spot for Trinidad and Tobago in the Olympic Games. As soon as they asked I didn't hesitate to say yes, my country needed me and I wasn't about to let them down also my dream was coming back to life and I cried for about two hours straight I just couldn't stop! I was absolutely over the moon! My mom and I were at a meet five hours away from our house so we had to drive home pack and head out for the airport! Everyone always asks if traveling the day before and arriving the day of was stressful but I honestly just didn't even have time to be stressed, everything happened so fast and I was just excited and calm. For a while it was really tough knowing that my country wasn't behind me but more and more supporters began to reach out to me so I focused on all of them and all of my supporters surrounding me in Canada and leave all the haters out of mind. As the games got closer I had so much support from Trinidad and Tobago and even now after the games. From people who contact me directly I would confidently say I have more love and support than negative vibes around me. I did my best to just stay off of social media and not read all of the hate and just really focas on the support I did have and the most important thing, my gymnastics.
TGD: When you’re not training, how do you relax?
MD: When I'm not training I watch my favourite shows on tv (suits, pretty little liars, Nashville, the bachelor and bachelorette ect.) and hang out with family and friends. Just normal teenager things:)
TGD: What do you do outside of gymnastics?
MD: Sports wise I don't do anything else outside of gymnastics and body conditioning I really just don't have time to.
Finish the sentence “Nothing beats -------------------- on a Saturday evening”
Nothing beats having a fun girls night out dancing on a Saturday evening.
Thank you again so much for this interview and hearing me out, I truly appreciate it.
Editors note: Thema Williams was also reached for an interview but hasn't yet responded.