“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away” – Eudora Welty
Photography is nothing less than art. When done correctly, it immortalises a moment forever. Apart from the technical skills of the right lighting, lens or framing, the secret to a great photograph is luck. It’s about being in the right place at the right time and letting the camera do its magic. One area where photographers hit the jackpot when they get lucky is sports photography. A landmark moment in sports comes once in a lifetime and lasts only a few seconds.
This International Photography Day, let’s look at nine iconic sports photographs that are etched in the world’s memory.
M S Dhoni’s Winning World Cup Six
In an evening that every Indian remembers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s match-winning six in the finals of the ICC World Cup 2011 is unforgettable. Dhoni played the winning shot, making 91 runs off 79 balls in this final match against Sri Lanka. The men in blue lifted the trophy for the country after 28 years with this brilliant performance during the tournament. Above is the photo that captured that last shot with many calling it the most important photo in Indian cricket.
Muhammad Ali standing over Sunny Liston
The overhead lamps and a room filled with smoke make this photo look like it was shot in a studio. But this iconic frame is from the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Sunny Liston in 1965. One minute and 44 seconds into the first round of the match, Ali knocked his opponent down and can be seen towering over Liston asking him to get up and fight in this historic photo of the great boxer.
Iván Fernández Anaya guiding Abel Mutai
In 2012, Kenya’s Abel Mutai was going to complete a cross country race in Spain with a great head start. But confused by the signs on the track, he stopped 10 meters before the finish line. Instead of overtaking him and winning the race, Spain’s Ivan Fernandez pointed Mutai to the finish line as seen in this photo. Later when Fernandez was asked why he didn’t just cross Abel and win the race, he said he didn’t deserve that victory, Mutai was ahead from the beginning and he would have won the race anyway.
Maradona’s “Hand of God”
Diego Maradona’s association goal won Argentina the quarter-final match against England during the 1986 FIFA World Cup. However, it was speculated that Maradona made the goal using this hand to touch the ball (which is against the rules). Due to the lack of camera replay technology the referees could not verify the claim and Argentina got the goal. When describing his team’s win, Maradona is said to credit the “hand of God” for the victory. Above is the iconic shot of the event.
Don Bradman’s Duck
Widely believed to be the greatest batsman of all time, Australia’s Don Bradman had a test cricket average of 99.94 runs. With 4 runs short of an average of 100, Bradman stepped into his last ever match in 1948. The result? The great stalwart got out in a second-ball duck (as seen in the photo) to end his illustrious career at the Oval in England.
Usain Bolt’s Triple-Triple at Rio Olympics
Believed to be the fastest man alive, Usain Bolt created history by winning gold medals in all three track events (100 meters, 200 meters and 4×100-meter relay) in three consecutive Olympics (Beijing in 2008, London in 2012 and Rio in 2016). In this photo, Bolt is seen making his famous lightning symbol at his last Olympics appearance in 2016.
Unimpressed Mckayla Maroney in London Olympics
The Olympics are a treasure trove of iconic sporting photos and this image of the American gymnast Mckayla Maroney went viral in 2012. Maroney was poised to win the gold medal in the Olympic vault event after the first round, but could not reach the required height during her jump in the second round. She ended up winning only a silver medal. In this meme-worthy photo, she is seen scowling at the medal ceremony looking unimpressed with the entire ordeal.
Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in Battle of the Sexes
In a first of its kind match, top female tennis champion Billie Jean King beat former men’s number one champion Bobby Riggs in a tennis match called “Battle of the Sexes” in 1973. The match was televised extensively and is considered to be a major sporting moment in the history of tennis. King’s win played a big role in cementing women’s participation in tennis.
Milkha Singh the Flying Sikh
The first Indian to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, Milkha Singh, is nicknamed “the Flying Sikh” for his speed and agility. Prior to his winning appearance in the Commonwealth Games in 1958, Singh had won two gold medals in the Asia Games the previous year. But with more global competition in the Commonwealth Games, Milkha Singh rose to the occasion and made the nation proud by winning the country it’s first gold medal at the international tournament.
The moments that these photos captured can convey the exact emotion, thrill and energy of the event. Were you moved by any of these 9 iconic sports photographs? Let us know in the comments!
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Deepthi is an ambivert who is on a steady diet of good food, filter coffee, and self-improvement. Being an ardent reader, storytelling has been her first love and she enjoys exploring how to convey stories compellingly. Having studied psychology and experienced the learning and development field, Deepthi is driven to understand human behavior and to know what makes each of us unique. You are most likely to find her tucked into a cozy corner at a local cafe with a Kindle or a book in hand. If you find her there, stop by and say hello, she'd be eager to learn your story too. Until then, you can ping her at [email protected] for anything you may like to share.
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