An image of Rafa Nadal, taken by renowned sports photographer James Gourley, has won the 2021 World Sports Photography Award.

Capturing a moment of intense focus and a single bead of sweat on the brow of the tennis legend during a match at Wimbledon, the image is a remarkable example of the power of sports photography to tell stories and provoke emotional response in viewers.

Gourley’s image was chosen from among 5,000 individual entries submitted by professional sports photographers from across 20 countries, by an international panel of judges which included athletes, agents, rights holders, sports marketers and brands.

The image of Nadal secured the overall award having beaten off competition from amongst 26 winners in the individual sporting categories including Football, Athletics, F1, Golf, Baseball, Cycling, Urban & Extreme. The Overall Top 10 includes images of Tiger Woods, Lionel Messi, Usain Bolt, Conor McGregor and Simone Biles.

Because of the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, this year’s World Sports Photography Awards allowed photographers to enter any images taken during the last 25 years. As well as shots of global sports stars the winning photographs feature stunning views of stadia, candid behind the scenes glimpses and engaging shots of supporters and fans.

Speaking about the awards, judge and CSM Business Director, Joe Laing said, “Sport has the unique ability to break down barriers and bring people together. At the heart of that ability are stories of endeavour, triumph, emotion, breath-taking skill and athleticism, acts of sportsmanship and selflessness. Every single entry captured that very essence of sport perfectly.”

GO: See the winning images here