Dirt and dust fly behind the squealing wheels of a racecar. The crowd goes wild as cyclists round the corner of a small Italian town. A soccer team celebrates on the field. These are a few of the emotions and scenes captured in this year’s World Sports Photography Awards (WSPA) winning images. 

“Sports influence and power is unrivaled. It represents the best of human endeavor,” WSPA writes on its website. “It transcends language and borders. It inspires, it moves, it delights. World Sports Photography Awards celebrates the amazing power of sport to touch our lives and the amazing power of photography to capture and communicate those moments.”

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About the World Sports Photography Awards

The competition is open to professional and semi-professional photographers in addition to specialist sports photographic agencies. It is free and each entrant can submit up to 20 images. A separate amateur contest is judged later in the year. 

Participants can enter photographs into a variety of categories (24 in total), including American football, boxing, cricket, equestrian, motorsports, baseball, and more. The extensive judging panel features experts in sports media, sports federations, athletic boards, marketing agencies, and associations, like the NBA, FIFA, NFL, and MLB. 

In keeping with athletic tradition, the World Sports Photography Awards has gold, silver, and bronze prizes. Here are a few of our favorite images in the gold category. 

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Our favorites

Samuel Barnes, gold winner, athletics

The rain adds playful chaos to the athletes’ jubilant celebration. Samuel Barnes

This image shows pure joy, victory, relief, and chaos. From the athletes’ jubilant expressions to the raindrops which add to the frenzy, you can taste the triumph.

Muhammad Arbaz, gold winner, cricket

A sun flare brings the heat to a game of cricket. Muhammad Arbaz

It’s the way the sun flare seems to punctuate the portrait of a cricket player mid-swing that gives this image a compelling tone. 

Ashley & Jered Gruber, gold winners, cycling

Often in sports, the crowd is just as important to the scene as the athletes. Ashley & Jered Gruber

You can feel the excitement of the crowd as they cheer on the cyclists. I thought this photo was interesting because it emphasizes not only the athletes but the spectators who are often crucial to the ambiance of an event. 

Mike Egerton, gold winner, equestrian

Mud flies on the race track. Mike Egerton

Look at the mud flying! Since horse racing is often viewed from afar, this up-close perspective captures the mad dash to the finish line perfectly. 

Eloisa Sanchez de Alba, gold winner, football

A player jumps for joy after a victorious match. Eloisa Sanchez de Alba

The smoke, the sparklers, and the general revelry all paint a great scene, but it’s the decisive movement of one incredibly happy player jumping for joy that makes this image a gold-medal winner. 

Marian Chytka, gold winner, motorsports

A racecar leaves a trail of dust and debris. Marian Chytka

In the winners’ gallery, what drew me were the unconventional sports photos, focusing on the details that might be considered an afterthought. In motorsports, it’s easy to just focus on the vehicles, flashy as they are. But this one tells a pretty cool story in the dust it leaves behind. 

Donald Miralle, gold winner, racquet sports

The quiet stillness before a match. Donald Miralle

The focus, stillness, and concentration drew me to this photo. The ping-pong ball floats for a split second before the match begins, a pocket of calm before an intense game. 

Morgan Treacy, gold winner, urban & extreme

Take a daredevil dive off a cliff. Morgan Treacy

Sapphire waters crash against the cliff. A line of spectators looks on. The solo free-fall into the ocean. Somehow, all the elements come together for a breathtaking calm.

Morgan Treacy, gold winner, water

A rower’s determined face breaks through the wall of water. Morgan Treacy

Another not-often seen perspective into the world of water sports. I love how the rower’s face breaks through the droplets in sheer determination. 

How to enter the next World Sports Photography Awards

The deadline for the World Sports Photography Awards professional category is March 6. Check the website for information about the amateur competition and next year’s schedule.