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Monday, September 18, 2000
Remote Control

By ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

  It's all so warm and fuzzy.

 And we can't get enough of it. Thankfully, neither can the television networks.

 Canadians won't soon forget Simon Whitfield's mad dash to gold at the Sydney Olympics. We saw it live on Saturday night, felt the rush as one of our own put Canada on top of the world. It was replayed over and over again yesterday, and it'll probably be that way for years to come yet.

 That's the meat and potatoes, though. That much we should expect from the CBC, or any network which is covering a major sports events. High drama as it happens -- few things play better on television.

 What will get forgotten soon enough, but shouldn't, are the little extras the CBC throws in as it shares in a nation's celebration. We speak specifically of that moment, which has become an Olympic tradition, when the hero arrives in CBC's studio, family in tow, for an interview with (in this case) prime-time host Brian Williams.

 Only the surface, the concept seems hokey. Mom and dad say lovely things about son or daughter, who returns the gesture in kind. Like we said, warm and fuzzy.

 But amazing, often poignant things have a way of happening. Like Prime Minister Jean Chretien dialling in to talk to Whitfield, and offering a humorous anecdote of his own.

 "I was watching the race with two Germans," the prime minister said. "You can imagine the fun I had."

 When Whitfield saw a tape of himself sobbing on the medal podium as O Canada played in his honour, he began to tear up again.

 Cheesy? Perhaps.

 But phony? Not a chance.

 It's what the Olympics are all about.

 It's why we tune in every night, over and over again.

 THE OVERNIGHT SHIFT: Why it must be the Olympics, Part II -- seeing everyone at a local watering hole spellbound by TV coverage of beach volleyball (beach volleyball!) and cheering wildly when Canada beat the U.S. ... If anyone should know how Canadians back home feel trying to keep up with these Games, it's TSN's Dave Randorf. He's on the air weekdays starting at 3 a.m. Sydney time. When most of us are still recovering from those 4:30 a.m. swim finals, that is ... The men's 100 metres track final is at 5:30 a.m. Saturday. Consider yourself warned.

 DOWN UNDAH TALK: If I'm watching the dramatic finish to any Olympic race, I want Don Wittman handling the call. Even after all these years, he's still got the voice to give you goosebumps in those moments ... Also turning up the decibel level at just the right time: CBC's Steve Armitage (swimming) and Mark Lee (beach volleyball) ... CBC and TSN are both using a graphic heading into and out of commercials that tells viewers what time it is in Sydney. Useful stuff.

 QUOTABLE: "I hope my life doesn't change too much because I love it so much as it is." -- Whitfield, in an interview with TSN's Gord Miller.
 Sport by Sport
PARALYMPICS
Purdy's golden moment
WRESTLING
IOC strips gold medal
TENNIS
Nestor's golden win hits home
BOXING
Harrison starts in Britain
WEIGHTLIFTING
Bulgarian coach resigns
TRACK & FIELD
Student suspended for e-mail threats
CANOE/KAYAK
Bridesmaid Brunet
PENTATHLON
Brit wins women's modern pentathlon
TRIATHLON
Simon's our man
BASKETBALL
Dream Team hangs on for another gold
WATER POLO
Hungary destroys Russia in title game
GYMNASTICS
Barsukova wins rhythmic gold in an upset
EQUESTRIAN
Wind dashes Millar's medal hopes
VOLLEYBALL
Yugoslavia beats Russia for gold
DIVING
Despatie arrives early
FIELD HOCKEY
Netherlands retains Olympic title
TAEKWONDO
Bosshart wins bronze in taekwondo
SYNCHRO
Ironic performance wins bronze
SAILING
Clarke retires after finishing 17th