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10 ASTOUNDING PICTURES

from Sports Events

Oh Rio 2016, once again 11,239 athletes have gathered to showcase their best, break a record or two and have a hard-earned bite into their medals. As for the rest of us, there are the ceremonies and some 28 sports disciplines to choose from. And 10 astounding pictures from legendary sports events!

The Knock-Out

sports-photography-muhammad-ali

image source: abcnews.go.com

So, the first entry and we're already ditching the Olympics? Well, first of all, boxing, with a couple of exceptions, has been a regularly sport since the first modern Olympic gathering in 1904. Secondly, this is Muhammad Ali, and the picture itself is a textbook example of iconic sports photography. Against all the odds, and despite some divisive pre-fight buzz, Ali, (then going by his birth name of Cassius Clay), had just knocked out Sonny Liston in a boxing match that would go down in history as the fourth-greatest sports event of the 20th century. It’s not about how hard can you hit, but about how fast and how well. Liston learned that the hard way.

What We can Leave Behind

sports-photography-ervin-kovacs

image source: www.slate.com

One of those photos that challenges all our perceptions of what is and what is not achievable. Legendary sports photographer Bob Martin has captured another characteristic still, that’s thought-provoking and inspiring at the same time. The courageous swimmer setting off for the 200m freestyle swim is Avi Torres, who unfortunately came in 6th place. However, the athlete managed to win silver and bronze medals in 150m individual and 450m relay medley, respectively. An overhead shot that teaches us how much we can overcome and leave behind in order to pursue our goals. Seen purely as a photograph, the colour relationships are outstanding.

The American Drama

sports-photography-joe-montana

image source: www.si.com

It’s hard to describe the significance and logistics of this particular scene, (or any of the scenes coming from this particular sport, for that matter), if you’re not familiar with the specifics of American football. However, what is completely obvious, if you can spare some time to check them out, is that stills of American football usually have a weird sense of narrative attached to them, not to mention the painting-like composition. Look at the characters! It’s an inferno, retribution, the battle of Agincourt. Okay, to be more precise it’s Joe Montana at Super Bowl XXIII in 1989. In the closing minutes of the game, Montana prevailed, by marching his team 92 yards down the field and leading them to victory.

The Game-Changer

sports-photography-wayne-gretzky

image source: www.si.com

Who’s that minuscule figure in the lower left hand corner, you might wonder? Well, that’s none other than Wayne Gretzky in 1999, waving farewell to the audience at Madison Square Garden after the match against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the last game of his undeniably brilliant career. Although it was a loss for Gretzky’s team (2 - 1), it was nothing compared to the loss that the world of hockey had to come to terms with that day. After leaving the field, Gretzky was reported as saying that it was the best game of his career. Not because of the astounding goals and passes, but because it represented everything he’d loved about the sport since his childhood.

Come on and Slam!

sports-photography-michael-jordan

image source: www.quickstopmedia.com

Hold on all you Space jammers! That’s none other but the young Jordan once again defying the laws of gravity in this slam dunk session from 1988. Flying high and fierce, the air Jordan simply goes full classic mode in this one. The stance, the Coca-Cola ad on the scoreboard video cube… This is when the NBA truly became something mainstream, right next to pizza boxes and empty soda cans. The man took-off from the free throw line, making everyone wonder whether he actually wasn't a distant descendant of Marry Poppins.

Back in My Day

sports-photography-jacques-plante

image source: rebrn.com

There’s nothing particularly significant about this entry (except perhaps for its irresistible vintage charm). However, you have probably noted the absence of helmets, or any other facial protection for that matter. Also the Sinatra-esque audience members, some of whom are smoking a cigarette whilst enjoying the game. To say that hockey hasn’t changed a lot would be the same as saying that the safety measures in this 1956 match are sufficient enough to ensure the puck couldn't injure anyone. In order to make the game a bit safer, the Canadian goalie Jacques Plante, (seen in the photo fulfilling his duties), was the first to bring facial protection gear to the field and is now considered one of game's most important innovators.

Excuse Me, Just Dribbling Through

sports-photography-bob-cousy

image source: www.si.com

Another basketball shot, and why not. The ecstatic player is not an early Pee Wee Herman prototype. It’s Bob Cousy, the guy we might probably call the inventor of modern basketball, because every entertaining aspect of the game you see today is a direct result of Cousy’s playing style. Dribbling behind his back, passing whilst looking in the opposite direction... The guy really knew how to combine showcasing with some serious play, fooling the taller players and making everyone around him look awkward in the process.

The Hulk from the USSR

sports-photography-vasily-alexeyev

image source: gadgets.siamsport.co.th

Although this Clean & Jerk picture undeniably has a meme potential, the man fighting himself and defying the nearly 500-pound heavy odds is widely considered to be the greatest weightlifter of all time. Only year or so after this photo was taken, Vasily Alexeyev managed to lift 500 pounds in the World Weightlifting championship in Ohio, becoming the first man ever to do so. Then followed a 7-year long string of record-setting and breaking until the man was transformed into something of a living legend. Alexeyev was never considered a born-to-be weightlifter, instead he built up his strength and weight gradually through proper nutrition. That is the power of a good meal.

Sweat and Tears

sports-photography-mary-decker

image source: www.fondazionecalderara.it

We all know that sport isn’t all smiles and glory. The tracks are regularly washed with blood, sweat, and tears. But, it's only through scenes likes this one that the stairway to the stars is built. The year was 1984 and the poor lady is the world famous former track athlete Mary Decker, a world champion at the time who had everything it takes to keep the title. However, an unlucky collision with her fellow runner, Zola Budd, (who, by the way, ran barefoot on the track), left Mary lying by the side of the track, witnessing the finish from a distance. It also did Budd no good either, since she fell from the lead to a rather disappointing 7th place. Sport is never predictable.

Reach Out

sports-photography-michael-phelps

image source: www.si.com

Michael Phelps seems to be a man who would be totally at home should “Waterworld” one day become a reality. An Olympic champion with more medals round his neck than any other athlete in the history of the games, Phelps, despite being a somewhat controversial figure these days, surely knows how to pan for gold. This famous photo, (once again by Bob Martin), shows just how little it may take to distinguish the winner from the loser, how little it may take to reach or to miss the so-close-yet-so-far away victory spot on the podium. It may be just one stretch, one grasp, one fingertip away. Michael Phelps out-stretched the Serbian swimmer Milorad Cavic, collecting the seventh of his record breaking 8 Olympic gold medals in Bejing. Can the bar actually get any higher?

Additional - “This is My Favourite Part”

sports-photography-mike-tyson

image source: www.thesportster.com

There is nothing particularly amazing, or that screams great sportsmanship here, but it's definitely a shot that documents one of the most controversial, talked-about and parodied boxing matches in the history of the sport. It’s the heavyweight bout of 28th June 1997. Mike Tyson, in the infinite wisdom of his young self, has decided to show his dominance by biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear. Although we aren't experts in boxing rules, we can guess that this is not considered appropriate behaviour; hence the $3 million fine and suspended boxing licence was not much of a surprise.

P.S. Excuse us for not including anything Hussain Bolt-related, although it’s safe to say that the Jamaican Flash still has a considerable chance of doing something amazing enough to fill sports photography-themed lists for the rest of the century.

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