These are the best sports photos captured in the past 25 years

The second World Sports Photography Awards 2021 announced 26 of its winners in numerous individual sports categories, showcasing the power of sports photography to tell stories and promote an emotional response in viewers.

Because the coronavirus pandemic has had such a huge impact on sports, and therefore sports photography, the World Sports Photography Awards asked attendees to dig deep into their archives and open the pool to any images captured during the course. over the past 25 years.

The Sports Photography Competition is hosted by the World Sports Photography Awards and has welcomed entries from professional and semi-professional photographers as well as specialist sports photography agencies to submit up to 20 photos per entry. A selection of prizes for the winners was available from competition partners, such as Jabra. F-stop and Western Digital.

Speaking of this year’s awards, co-founder Alan Whiter says that “sports and photography have a long and powerful relationship. The emotion, athleticism and focus that are at the heart of the sport are uniquely captured and communicated through photography. This is an amazing collection of images across all sports disciplines and with all kinds of stories behind them. “

The overall Top 10, shared below, includes images of Tiger Woods, Lionel Messi, Usain Bolt, Conor McGregor and Simone Biles, and others.


Image title: Focus (2017) | Gold winner James Gourley

Global Gold Title Awarded to Renowned Sports Photographer James gourley who is based in Sidney, Australia, for his photograph of Rafa Nadal, a Spanish professional tennis player. Taken in 2017
at Wimbledon, the photograph captured a moment of intense focus and a close-up of a single drop of sweat on Nadal’s forehead.


Image title: The smile (2016) | Cameron Spencer Silver Laureate

Cameron Spencer received the silver award for his 2016 image titled Smile, who captured Usain Bolt sprinting at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The image also received the gold medal in the “Athletics” category. Spencer has covered six Olympic Games, four Commonwealth Games, three Rugby World Cups and many other international sporting events.


Image Title: In the Line of Fire (2010) | Bronze winner Mark Pain

In the Firing Line, captured in 2010 by the photographer Mark the pain, received the Bronze Prize. Multi-award-winning photographer and Nikon Ambassador to the UK, Pain has been photographing sport for over 25 years covering events such as the Olympics and the Ryder Cup, as well as the Football and Rugby World Cups, Championships from the athletics world, etc.

Special merit

The following images received special merit from the judges and cover a variety of sports categories.

Image Title: Running in the Sun. Paris – Nice cycling race (2018) | James starrt
Image Title: The All-Star Star (2020) | Yip Lampson Karmin
Image Title: Simone Biles at Gymnastics Superstars (2019) | Marc Aspland
Image Title: Paralympic Swimmer (2004) | Bob martin
Image Title: Not Today (2014) | Daria Isaiah
Image title: Mallory Franklin British Slalom Canoeist (2019) | Richard pelham
Image title: The Notorious (2017) | John barry

Submissions received were judged by a diverse panel who can be read in full here. The full list of winners in the various sports categories is available at the World Sports Photography Awards website here.

Image credits: All photos are individually credited and provided courtesy of the World Sports Photography Awards.

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