So Track & Field has finally gotten started in Beijing and I can’t help but notice a rather obvious absence from Team Canada… and it’s not someone you might think.
This is the first time in my lifetime that I have sat down to watch an Olympic Games, or really any major Canadian sporting event, and not heard the voice of Don Wittman.
One of my most vivid memories of sports came in 1996 during the Atlanta Olympics. I was 13 years old and I was at Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant in Toronto with my Aunt and Uncle after spending a day there with them doing a bunch of different things. We had sat down for dinner there but it was a Saturday night and the place also can serve as a sports bar so it was pretty crowded and rowdy given the fact that it was the Olympics.
I remember our food had just arrived and I hadn’t really been paying much attention to the TV screens that were everywhere – but the crowd got kind of quiet for a moment and I could hear Don Wittman running down the list of men who were about to run the 100 metre final so I looked up knowing it would be a 10 second race and my dinner would likely be able to wait. (a discipline we all know Steve would never have been able to take part in)
We all know the rest. (or you should!) Donovan Bailey won the Olympic Gold medal in the 100 metre dash and set a World Record at the same time and Don’s call of the race is still crystal clear in my head.
Ever since then whether it be Olympic Games or Grey Cup’s or whatever else, important in Canada, that was going on in sports – he was there.
He of course passed away not too long ago so this is the first major event where it is painfully obvious that “Wow – normally this would be Don’s voice”.
This year it will be Mark Lee doing the honours and he seems to be doing a fine job…. but it’s just not the same.