Don Wittman


I think the CBC coverage of the Beijing Olympics has been the best I’ve ever seen. There are the usual weak spots, but overall the play-by-play and the analysis has been very strong. Scott Russell and Diana Swain have good chemistry. There is no one who can beat Steve Armitage in calling a tight race, be it speed skating (“Stride for stride to the line!”) or swimming (“Stroke for stroke to the wall!”). Anne Montminy has done a much better job at explaining diving than previous analysts they’ve had, and Donovan Bailey and David Moorcroft have been fun and insightful at the track.

But I miss Don Wittman. I didn’t realise how much my memory of Simon Whitfield’s gold medal at Sydney was coloured by Wittman’s call of the last few hundred meters until I watched him win silver the other day, and wished Whitman had been calling it. Ditto for Wittman’s call of Bailey’s 100 gold medal in the 100 and the relay in 1996. Whitman was a real talent, and he’s missed.


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Don Wittman

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Too bad you spelled his name wrong.

  2. oops. fixed.

  3. What I love about that call is that it breaks the first rule of calling a sprint: don’t make your every word about the Canadian guy.

    When the Canadian guy wins, though, it sounds pretty awesome.

  4. I must say Andrew,

    I could not agree more.

    CBC’s coverage is spot-on. Their studio is fantastic. I love their interviews with the athletes past and present.

    What I love most though, is their online coverage. I have been able to watch every race, thanks to cbcsports.ca which has been incredible.

    I think CBC should focus on amateur sports. It is quite unfortunate to see the games moving on to TSN/Sportsnet.

  5. CBC coverage of the events has been good, agreed, but their presentation of what China is like makes my blood boil. I can’t believe the tv companies, NBC and BBC as well, have allowed themselves to become mouthpieces for the ChiComs. The little vignettes of ‘life in China’ they do are disgraceful.

  6. JWL: I agree on the China vignettes. The Globe’s tv columnist had a good little column about it, she called it “ooga booga” journalism.

  7. The English guy doing commentary for track is the best commenter they’ve ever had. The guy doing the rowing coverage is also very good.
    Tewksbury, who is covering various things, is not bad.
    Most other guest commenters are the usual boilerplate feel-good crap with no real insight.
    And I agree with JWL, the China vignettes are also crap, there is nothing the slightest bit newsworthy or interesting about them, in any other country they would do real reporting.

  8. In any other country? Really? I watched a bunch of the NBC feed and did not see any “real” reporting.

    I’ll echo the some of the pro-CBC sentiment. The amount of online coverage was unprecedented and needs to continue under CTV. MacLean was great, as usual. I really enjoyed the duo that commentated on the swimming. Above all, I appreciated the amount of live coverage available and not leaving much of the coverage for prime time only, as NBC did.

  9. You know what else the CBC broadcast featured? A complete absence of Brian Williams.

  10. Thank God for that.

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