Tom Jenkins’ best sports photos of 2016 – The Guardian

Andy Murray wins Wimbledon again – 10 July
135mm lens 1/1600 f4 ISO 1000

Championship-winning point at Wimbledon is always a bit nervy for me even though I have done many of them over the years. There are some pretty big decisions to be made – what lens do you go on as you don’t know where on the court they will celebrate? Do you go upright or landscape? Are they jumpers or fallers when they win? What’s the light doing? You just know whatever choices you make have to be right. Of course you can never legislate for a player turning away from his family and pointing in the wrong direction from the majority of photographers like Andy Murray did in 2013. Luckily he didn’t repeat that this year.

Young Arlo Schlupp and the Premier League trophy – 7 May
165mm lens 1/1250 f4 ISO 1600

The son of Jeff Schlupp holds the trophy after the Premier League trophy presentation


The day Leicester lifted the Premier League trophy was quite remarkable. Not only was it fantastic outside, where the whole city seemed to have congregated for a massive party, but also inside the stadium especially after the game. The actual trophy lift itself was blighted for the vast majority of photographers because we could hardly see it due to the abundance of TV cameras smack in front of the presentation. But there were some lovely images of players and management cavorting with the cup afterwards, hardly believing what had occurred. Probably this image was my favourite of the day. Jeffrey Schlupp’s son looking bemused and nonplussed by the whole thing as he holds on to the trophy. One day in the future I’m sure he will understand what all the fuss was about.

England’s Jonny May is caught by South Africa’s Pat Lambie – 12 November
400mm lens 1/1600 f3.5 ISO 3200

Jonny May tackled by Pat Lambie during the England v South Africa autumn international rugby union match at Twickenham Stadium


As England rugby union’s triumphant year rumbled on through the autumn, the flying Gloucester wing was back scoring tries for his country. Here he just fails to escape the clutches of the Springboks fly-half Lambie. This image is helped by the facial expressions and the low angle emphasising how far May is off the ground.

The Australian women’s team pursuit competing in the Rio Olympic velodrome – 13 August
16mm lens 1/8 f9 ISO 100

The Australian womens team pursuit in action at the Olympic velodrome in the Olympic Park during day eight of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero


I was in the velodrome one afternoon during the Olympics shooting the women’s team pursuit qualification when I decided to have a bit of a play. It was something I had tried but not quite nailed at the world championships in London in March. Instead of panning horizontally I rotated anti-clockwise with a very slow shutter speed in order to create circular light trails. It was just a case of repeating and repeating until I achieved a rider sharp enough in the centre of this spinning effect.

Boxer George Groves by Barnes railway bridge – 22 January
44mm lens 1/400 f2.8 ISO 100

George Groves the boxer poses for a portrait by Barnes railway bridge


We had an interview with Groves who was about to take the latest step in rebuilding his career after three unsuccessful attempts at world titles. He is based in Hammersmith so I asked if he could meet me not far away down by the River Thames. It was a foul day but good to his word he turned up and stood in the pouring rain. I use a lighting system which has a high-speed sync capability thus enabling me to shoot a combination of wide aperture and high shutter speed.

Mixed synchronised swimming at the European Aquatics Championships – 11 May
400mm lens 1/2500 f3.2 ISO 3200

Mikhaela Kalancha (left) and Aleksandr Maltsev of Russia during the synchronised swimming mixed duet free final on day three of the 33rd LEN European Aquatics Championships


It was the first time that this event had been held at a European championships so I was quite looking forward to seeing something a bit different at the London Aquatics Centre. The Russians are the masters of this sport so it was no surprise to see them lead the way. It produced decent pictures as the man was able to throw the woman all over the place, spray flying off in all directions. But often you couldn’t clearly see that it was a mixed couple competing which was the whole point of the picture. So my favourite from that day was this – shooting at a very low level with a long lens I was able to get a nice reflection of both competitors.

Winston Reid scores the winner for West Ham v Manchester United in the last game to be played at the famous Boleyn Ground – 10 May
24mm lens 1/100 f8 ISO 2500

Winston Reid (on floor) scores the winning goal and the final goal to be scored at the ground during the West Ham United v Manchester United F.A. Premier League match at the Boleyn Ground


From my position during the game, low down and by the dug-outs, I knew I wouldn’t have a good angle to achieve an image of the ground that could be seen as an historic reminder of the final game. So I managed to get permission to clamp a remote camera high up on the scaffolding supporting the TV studio. Here I could see it all – the ground, the pitch, the players, the lights, the fans. Obviously it was a huge stroke of luck for me that the final goal was scored at the right end but if you don’t try you never get.

An NFL black power salute at Twickenham – 23 October
200mm lens 1/4000 f4 ISO 1000

Robert Quinn of the Rams does a black power salute as a protest during the US national anthem before the New York Giants v LA Rams NFL match at Twickenham Stadium


As the American national anthem is played, Robert Quinn, a defensive end for the LA Rams, holds his right fist in the air in a black power salute. The American football season had started in controversy with a wave of protests by players angry about perceived wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States. Twickenham was holding its first NFL match and the first non-rugby sports event in the stadium’s history.

Le Mans 24-hour race – 18 June
560mm lens (400mm + 1.4 converter) 1/5000 f5.6 ISO 200

Cars racing into the sunset at the Le Mans 24 hour motor race at the Circuit de la Sarthe


This was an event I had wanted to do for ages and finally this year I got the chance mainly because I was doing an exclusive picture essay with Sir Chris Hoy who was competing there for the first time. I was taken aback by the enormity of the circuit and crowds. It was huge and finding out the best angles for various times of day would take me hours and hours of trudging around. I obviously didn’t have this time as for most of the race I needed to be stationed near the pits where Hoy was based. I did however manage to find a decent spot near the finishing straight for the sunset on Saturday and luck played its part as a car span into the gravel and dust particles thrown into the air softened the evening light.

Richard Johnson poses for a portrait after racing at Taunton – 13 January
50mm lens 1/4000 f1.6 ISO 200

Richard Johnson the National Hunt jockey poses for a portrait at Taunton racecourse


On 16 occasions Johnson had finished runner-up to AP McCoy in the race for the champion jump jockey title. This picture was taken just after he had achieved his 3,000th winner and he knew then in mid-January he was well on his way to claiming the top jockey’s prize. It was a beautiful winter’s day in Somerset but despite having plenty of light to play with I decided to have a wide-open aperture to give me a small depth of field and blur the background nicely.

Great Britain v China men’s team foil fencing – 12 August
120mm lens 1/2000 f4.5 ISO 3200

A double exposure during the Great Britain v China team foil fencing match for 5th place at the Barra Olympic Park during day seven of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero


The fencing tournament at the Olympics is always one of my favourite events to cover. It is theatrically and dramatically lit which means photographers can have a lot of fun experimenting with exposures and shutter-speeds. Also it’s not one of the high-profile events where the pressure is on not to miss a vital moment. After a bit of evaluation time I managed to work out how I could combine two frames in a multiple exposure. The colours of the different pistes certainly add to the impact of this image while it was just a matter of time and practice before getting the fencers in the right place.

MMA fighting in Colchester – 20 February
200mm lens 1/800 f2.8 ISO 4000

Brian Bouland a welterweight from Belgium hits Jamie Pritchard a featherweight from Newquay in their professional catchweight BCMMA fight at the Charter Hall in Colchester


I was at Colchester’s Charter Hall to cover a grassroots MMA evening as part of a multimedia project about the growth of the sport and its top level of UFC. It was my first night shooting the sport and some of it I found quite shocking, especially the move called “ground and pound” which seemed to involve pinning your opponent on his back and smashing him in the face. This is illustrated here as Brian Bouland, a welterweight from Belgium, completely overwhelms the bloodied and beaten Jamie Pritchard, a featherweight from Cornwall. Working that night was really challenging as the light was dreadful and shooting at ground level through the wire-work of the cage made focussing very tricky.

Messi, Neymar and Suárez celebrate a goal against Arsenal at the Emirates – 23 February
560mm lens (400m + 1.4 converter) 1/1250 f4 ISO 4000

Lionel Messi of Barcelona (left) celebrates scoring the 1st goal with Luis Suarez (right) and Neymar (centre) during the Arsenal v Barcelona Champions League last sixteen first leg match at the Emirates Stadium


Barcelona’s awesome attacking three amigos or “MSN” had just combined beautifully to rip apart Arsenal and score a vital away goal in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 match. In front of the Barça fans it seemed quite serene and peaceful as they fitted together like a perfect puzzle.

England beating France in Paris and winning the grand slam – 19 March
560mm lens (400mm + 1.4 converter) 1/1600 f4 ISO 4000

George Kruis (centre) and the other England players celebrate the Grand Slam as the referee blows the final whistle during the France v England Six Nations international rugby union match at the Stade de France


As the referee blows the final whistle on their Six Nations campaign George Kruis, centre, bellows in celebration while some of the England backs dance around in the background. The last play of the game was in the centre circle so I made sure I had a converter on to bring me closer to the final scene.

Andy Murray poses for a portrait at Queens Club – 26 February
70mm lens 1/200 f2.8 ISO 800

Andy Murray poses for a portrait at the Queens Club


Murray was giving his first interview since the birth of his daughter Sophia and I was sent along to the Queen’s Club in west London to do some portraits. I knew I had a limited amount of time with him as he had a whole raft of media commitments that afternoon. So to make the most of this opportunity I had a number of differing positions and scenes set up beforehand so I could quickly move him from one to another. He was so professional and easy with me and couldn’t have been more relaxed. I came away from that day thinking he was in perfect shape to have a great season.

Carnage at The Chair during the Grand National at Aintree – 9April
70mm lens 1/5000 f4 ISO 2000

Nina Carberry flies off Sir Des Champs as they fall at The Chair fence during the Grand National steeplechase during day three of the Grand National Meeting at Aintree Racecourse


As part of a well rehearsed plan I have at the Grand National I always put a couple of remote cameras at the largest fence on the course. This year I had a camera placed either side of the landing area. It was a filthy day which meant the ground was soft and the horses were tiring as they came to the daunting Chair. Luckily one of the remotes captured the moment Nina Carberry flew off her horse Sir Des Champs who had refused to jump. I always put a very high shutter speed on a remote especially one designed to capture a subject moving quickly from side to side.

Mo Farah wins the Olympic 5,000 metres in Rio – 21 August
560mm lens (400mm +1.4 converter) 1/1600 f4 ISO 3200

Mo Farah of Great Britain celebrates victory as he crosses the line in the men’s 5,000m during day fifteen of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero


Farah crosses the finishing line and completes the historic double-double of men’s 5,000m and 10,000m titles in consecutive Olympics. This was a really big moment for which I reserved a spot from mid-afternoon in a position as near to head on as possible. To give me another angle of the finish I also placed a remote wide-angle camera on the inside of the bend. Being on a tight deadline meant I had to wire my camera up to the internet so I could transmit directly back to the office during the race. Within a couple of minutes of the finish this image was being put in the paper.

Serena Williams during a live interview with Gary Richardson at Wimbledon – 5 July
33mm lens 1/200 f3.2 ISO 1600

Gary Richardson of the BBC interviewS Serena Williams of the USA immediately she comes off Centre Court after her victory in the women’s quarter-final during day eight of the 2016 Wimbledon tennis championships


While compiling a behind-the-scenes picture essay about the BBC at Wimbledon I was ushered into a little room underneath the Royal Box just by Centre Court. In breezed Serena fresh off the court after a victory in the women’s singles quarter-finals. I had to keep very still and quiet, putting my motor-drive on to single and silent so as not to disturb. I don’t think she even noticed I was there as she was quizzed by the BBC’s master of the post-match interview.

Leonardo Ulloa scores a vital goal for Leicester City versus West Ham – 17 April
70mm lens 1/2500 f8 ISO 1600

Leonardo Ulloa scores the last minute penalty to give Leicester the 2-2 draw during the Leicester City v West Ham United F.A. Premier League match


For several matches towards the end of the last Premier League season I went to Leicester home games with the aim of trying to illustrate not just the game but also the crowd celebrating their team’s unbelievable success. I positioned remote cameras in differing places in order to capture the precise moment the Foxes scored. For this game I had one camera strapped to a TV gantry directly behind the goal but deliberately kept the view wide enough to include the fans. It turned out to be a crucial game as Leicester got a debatable injury-time penalty, at the right end for me, which they scored to draw the match and gain a vital point on their way to the title.

The New Zealand women’s rugby team perform their Haka – 19 November
560mm lens (400m + 1.4 converter) 1/2000 f4 ISO 800

The Black Ferns do their Haka before the England Women v New Zealand Women international rugby union match at The Twickenham Stoop


The Black Ferns were playing England at the Twickenham Stoop as part of the autumn internationals. The English women are the reigning World Cup holders whereas their Kiwi equivalents are the current No1 team in the world, so it was always going to be a feisty occasion. When the Haka was performed I managed to sneak on to the pitch and shoot with a long lens from just behind the England players. I particularly like the message on the wrist-tape of the woman in front which simply says “Kill”.

Springboard diving at the European Aquatics Championships – 12 May
400mm lens 1/15 f7.1 ISO 100

Constantin Blaha of Austria during the mens 3m springboard competition on day four of the 33rd LEN European Swimming Championships


For this image to work I needed a clean dark background. I noticed that a temporary TV gantry had been erected and a black drape put over it so as not to distract the judges. As it was qualifying there were quite a few empty seats in the stands so it was a case of moving from seat to seat estimating where the divers would leap to after springing from the board and making sure the black cloth was directly behind them. After a lot of experimenting with shutter-speeds and many frames where the diver jumped out of the desired position, eventually I got something I was happy with.

The Brownlee brothers embrace after finishing first and second at the Olympics – 18 August
235mm lens 1/1600 f4.5 ISO 500

Alistair Brownlee, left, and Jonny Brownlee after they finished 1st and 2nd in the mens triathlon on Copacabana beach during day thirteen of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero


It is something of a tradition, brought about by sheer exhaustion, that triathletes collapse on the floor after finishing their race. The Olympics are no exception and Alistair Brownlee, left, duly fell to the ground after he won his second Olympic gold medal. What made this moment special was his brother Jonny came in as runner-up and ended up right next to him on the floor. The touching embrace from elder to younger brother spoke volumes. Of course their relationship hit the headlines once more in September when Jonny was helped across a finishing line in Mexico by his older sibling.

Lutalo Muhammad cries after losing in his taekwondo final – 20 August
42mm lens 1/640 f3.5 ISO 3200

Lutalo Muhammed of Great Britain cries into a friend’s arms after he lost his gold medal taekwondo bout in the last second during day fourteen of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero


Going into the final second of his 80kg gold medal bout the British fighter was ahead. But with one last kick his opponent scored and Muhammad had lost out on his dream, one that he had been working 18 years for. Understandably he was heartbroken as friends and family in the crowd tried to console him. I suppose in some ways he is now more famous because of losing than if he was another GB gold medallist to add to the other 27.

A lone Englishman during the England v Wales Euro 2016 match in Lens – 16 June
200mm lens 1/1600 f4 ISO 1000

A solitary England fan amongst Welsh fans during the England v Wales Euro 2016 Group B match at the Stade Felix Bollaert


This made me laugh. I couldn’t believe how this England fan, dressed proudly in his replica kit from the early 90s, felt marooned among a sea of proud, red-wearing Welshmen. There wasn’t any trouble and it seemed to me that the England fan was left alone to watch the game. Although England won that match they departed the tournament in disgrace losing to Iceland while Wales went on to the dizzy heights of the semi-finals.

Aston Villa supporters are bussed into St Andrews, the home of bitter city rivals Birmingham City – 30 October
100mm lens 1/1600 f3.2 ISO 1000

Aston Villa fans arrive to a welcome before the Birmingham City v Aston Villa Football League Championship match at St Andrews


It was the first second-city derby since 2011 and I was sent to do a special feature on the fans and how they reacted to each other at this heated game. While I was outside the ground sampling the special atmosphere created by the arriving home fans, the away fans from Villa were brought in. Needless to say it became a bizarre game of gesture and swearing through the glass. The picture though is made by the name of the bus company. The game finished 1-1 with West Midlands police most happy with the result.

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