By ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun
He's taken Canadians through endless talk about drug scandals and the problems ailing our amateur sports system.
Through it all, one thing remains clear: There's no place Brian Williams would rather be than at an Olympic Games.
Sydney is No. 9 for CBC's evening anchor, and a quick conversation gives the impression that Williams doesn't plan to stop adding to that number anytime soon.
"Without a doubt, it's (my favourite event to cover)," he said from Sydney earlier this week. "There is no event in the world like the Olympic Games."
Truth by told, Williams had concerns that all the International Olympic Committee scandals that broke early last year might hurt the lustre of the show in Sydney. But you get the impression that he'll be heading home after his final shift tonight looking back at Sydney as one of his favourite Games.
"These have been the best Olympics ever," he said, crediting the fanatical Australian fans for making it so. "It just goes to show again that the Olympics are about the athletes, not about the people who run the show or the IOC, and not about the television networks. That's why the Olympics will always succeed."
Williams says all this after again spending in inordinate amount of time discussing the taint of drug usage, something he clearly abhors. He also says this knowing that Canada's amateur sport system is in serious need of overhauling, another issue that has gotten serious CBC airtime.
Fortunately for viewers, his enthusiasm for bringing this event home to Canadians remains as strong as ever. It's a big part of why he remains the best Olympics host.
"I believe in the Olympic Games," he said. "The drug (stories) don't drag me down ... the day I'm dragged down by them is the day I get out of the Olympics."
THE OVERNIGHT SHIFT:
After all the acrimony, a picture worth savouring from yesterday's 4x100-metre relay semi-finals: Ottawa's Glenroy Gilbert, a big smile on his face, hugging and congratulating the young sprinters (and one hurdler) forced to carry Canada's honour in the event ... As Lithuania grabbed the lead late in its men's basketball semi-final with the U.S., TSN's Paul Romanuk summed up the mood of the situation in three words: "This is shocking." Nothing more needed to be said ... Sure, the medals we've won there have helped. But the stunning camera work at diving has made it one of the most TV-friendly venues of the Games. A far cry from Penrith Lakes, where last night's canoe-kayak finals suffered from the same confusing views as rowing last week.
DOWN UNDUH TALK:
As the CBC's Terry Leibel interviewed Kingston triathlete Simon Whitfield yesterday, one thought came to mind: Doesn't it seem like a month ago that he won Canada's first gold medal of these Games? ... Further proof that these are indeed the wired Olympics: The CBC reported yesterday that its Sydney website has received more than 4.25 million hits since Aug. 31 ... Leibel and Ron MacLean are hosts for CBC's coverage of the closing ceremony at 4 a.m. tomorrow.