By ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun
Suddenly, it didn't seem like such a big deal anymore.
We're guessing that homes across Canada went dark early yesterday morning about the same time the lights went out on Canada's hopes for sprint gold in Sydney.
When Bruny Surin's hamstring gave out just before 4 a.m. in the 100 metres semi-finals, that meant no Canadian would be running for Olympic gold a little less than 11/2 hours later. No hope of a repeat of the glorious moment Donovan Bailey gave Canadians four years ago in Atlanta.
If there was any event Canadians might have risen extra early for in these Games, this was the one. The 100 is considered by many to be THE glamour event of any Olympics. And the final was set for a Saturday, a non-working day for most Canadians.
But the proceedings overnight just added to the concern that must be building within the CBC ranks. Canadians aren't winning with the frequency they did in 1996, when viewers in this country couldn't get enough of the Olympics.
The results haven't been nearly as good in Sydney, and the cynicism seems to grow by the day.
CBC's crew in Sydney, to its credit, hasn't tried to soft-pedal the downturn in Canadian fortunes. With Brian Williams taking the lead role, CBC has already invested plenty of energy answering the question ringing the loudest back at home: Where have all the medals gone?
Former Olympic swim hero Alex Baumann, a Canadian now living in Australia, offered this rather sharp assessment a few nights back: "(Increased federal) funding isn't always the key. You have to have the structure, you have to have the right people at the top."
Good journalism? Yes.
But good television?
Viewers will have the last say on that.
THE OVERNIGHT SHIFT: Maybe it's just me (actually, I'm sure it's not), but Don Wittman's call of the men's 100 metres final sounded a whole lot sweeter four years ago when it was Bailey doing the butt-kicking in Atlanta ... Tom Harrington's trackside work the past few days has been solid. The CBC reporter delivered revealing interviews with Bailey and Surin after they bowed out of the 100 picture ... Cool view: Watching the women's 50-metre swim final -- known as the "splash and dash" -- through the lens of an overhead camera. This is one picture that surely doesn't lie.
DOWN UNDUH TALK: How in the name of Maurice Greene (and Marion Jones, for that matter) could NBC sign on at noon yesterday and not immediately tell viewers about the U.S. sweep of the 100 metres gold medals? Does NBC honestly think its audience didn't know the results by then? ... Yes, there is a better way to show viewers Olympic rowing. NBC's clever overhead camera does the trick just fine ... TSN's Olympic coverage Thursday from 3-6 a.m. attracted an audience of 100,000. Normal viewership at that hour: 15,000. Yeah, they're likin' this Sydney thing.
QUOTABLE: "There is no way in the world that is going to happen." -- CBC's Williams, on Canada's chances of repeating its second weekend medal bonanza at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.