World Sports Photography Awards 2021

It was a true delight and honour to discover my photograph was chosen as the overall Gold Prize winner of the Second annual World Sports Photography Awards.

It was baffling to me that my photo was chosen ahead of some of the best sports photography from the past 25 years – Work I’ve been in awe of throughout my career, but I’m delighted to take the top prize.

A drip of sweat falls from Rafael Nadal (ESP) forehead. Photo by James Gourley/Shutterstock

I was working for Shutterstock Editorial at the time covering the 2017 Wimbledon Championships.

This photo was during Rafael Nadal’s first round match against John Millman. I had chosen to sit on the west side of the court (directly behind Rafa’s bench area) and was hoping to shoot tight detail shots using a 600mm lens.

Rafa is famous for the amount he can sweat when he’s in action, so I was trying to make interesting photos showing his sweat flying as he moved around the court.

It was as he returned to his seat about 5 metres from where I was sitting that he bent over directly in front of me as a bead of sweat drew down from his forehead, luckily I was using a small area of auto focus so I was able to ensure the right bit was caught in the tiny depth of field, catching the moment just before the sweat dripped away.

I immediately thought the shot was pretty good and filed it straight away, but as Rafa won easily and there were bigger stories elsewhere in the grounds, I don’t think it got used anywhere! 

Additionally in the competition, this photograph from the Deni Ute Muster received a Special Merit in the ‘Other Sports’ category.

DENILIQUIN, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 04: A Bull Rider in action at the 2019 Deni Ute Muster on October 04, 2019 in Deniliquin, Australia.
(Photo by James Gourley/Getty Images)

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