By ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun
Years from now, it might well be the image that defines these Sydney Olympics.
If it isn't already.
If there really is only one picture that captures the most powerful moment of the Games so far: The 400-metre victory by home country hero Michelle Freeman.
Thanks to the magic of live television, Canadian viewers who were up just before dawn yesterday had a front-row seat as the Australian runner delivered on the monstrous expectations placed on her shoulders.
No athlete in Sydney felt such pressure. Freeman was riding a remarkable string of success coming into the Games, and was widely expected to become the first athlete of Aborigine origin to win an Olympic gold medal. She lit the flame at Stadium Australia to start the Olympics.
Early yesterday, she ignited a different kind of passion at the massive 110,000-seat stadium (untold millions more watched the race on Australian television). The pictures and the words supplied by CBC's Don Wittman and Geoff Gowan brought home the magic of an event that, as Wittman said, would have all of Australia standing still.
The words were compelling but the images stunning in their sheer honesty. The powerful young runner, near tears after the finish, with the crowd's roar still engulfing her with deafening force.
Then, later, the widest of smiles as she took an emotional victory lap and accepted Australia's most cherished gold medal of the Games.
Catherine The Great, blared a headline in The Australian newspaper in today's editions.
Said Wittman: "A smile that will live forever in the hearts of Australians."
Olympic magic at its finest, indeed.
THE OVERNIGHT SHIFT: Shouldn't Canada's thrilling comeback victory in a crucial hoops game with Yugoslavia have been worth a trademark 'it ... is ... over' from TSN's Paul Romanuk? Just wondering ... CBC analyst Michael Smith twice made the point that hammer throwers have a habit of screaming loudly at their implements after tossing them. Some folks might like to know why ... Goosebump time: Seeing Australian beach volleyball players Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst sobbing into the Bondi Beach sand after striking gold in their homeland.
DOWN UNDUH TALK: CBC's Brian Williams chaired a fascinating panel discussion last night about the ills that ail Canada's amateur sports system. One particularly revealing comment by Australian rowing coach Brian Richardson, who formerly headed up the Canadian program: "The only thing that counts (in Australia) is winning." ... One more image to remember: Russian gymnast Svetlana Khorkina dissolving into tears as she kissed the uneven bars after winning her first gold medal of the Games (that courtesy of NBC).
QUOTABLE: "We're in the business of performance. Winning medals is what we're here for." -- Canadian whitewater kayaker David Ford, refuting suggestions that too much emphasis is placed on Canadians winning medals at the Olympics