It is through their lens that we view and remember the most iconic moments in sport.
Do you recall Bruny Surin raising his arms in early celebration after a successful handoff to anchor runner Donovan Bailey as Canada won 4x100m relay gold at Atlanta 1996?
If your answer was yes, then you probably have Claus Andersen to thank.
A sports photographer for four decades, Andersen has shot everything from hockey to basketball to football to golf. But his specialty and favourite subject is track and field, which he covered at every Olympic Games from Los Angeles 1984 to London 2012.
Priscilla Lopes-Schliep reacts to winning bronze in the 100m hurdles at Beijing 2008 (Photo: Claus Andersen)
Andersen was there when Priscilla Lopes-Schliep displayed unbridled joy as she finally realized that she’d won 100m hurdles bronze at Beijing 2008, ending Canada’s Olympic medal drought on the track. He witnessed Canada’s best ever eight medal performance at the 2015 IAAF World Championships, including Andre De Grasse‘s rise to sprint stardom.
Andre De Grasse celebrates his bronze medal in the 100m at the 2015 IAAF World Championships (Photo: Claus Andersen)
But though he had a front row seat to greatness, there is very little glamour in the life of a photographer.
Just like the athletes they forever preserve on film (or pixels, as the case may be these days), photographers need to have great stamina and dedication to their craft. They experience the same rush of adrenaline and the same stiff competition as they strive to capture the perfect shot, the one that will become our memory of that moment in time.
Can you imagine sleeping overnight in a stadium just to ensure you had the best seat? How about realizing you were having a heart attack while shooting an athlete’s gold medal glory?
Andersen has experienced it all and shared with Olympic.ca the special relationship between athletes and the people who bring their moment to the world.
A collection of Claus Andersen photos:
Marita Payne competes at the 1987 IAAF World Championships in Rome Photo: Claus Andersen
1982 Canadian Track and Field Championships Photo: Claus Andersen
Bruny Surin in 1989 Photo: Claus Andersen
Diane Jones competes in the hurdles in 1977 Photo: Claus Andersen
Jillian Richardson competes at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games Photo: Claus Andersen
Dave Steen competes at the 1983 Universiade in Edmonton Photo: Claus Andersen
Donovan Bailey with his 100m gold medal from Atlanta 1996 Photo: Claus Andersen
Robert Esmie, Bruny Surin, Glenroy Gilbert and Donovan Bailey with their 4x100m relay gold medals from the 1997 IAAF World Championships in Athens Photo: Claus Andersen
Perdita Felicien celebrates winning gold in the 100m hurdles at the 2003 IAAF World Championships in Paris Photo: Claus Andersen
Reid Coolsaet competes in the marathon at the London 2012 Olympic Games Photo: Claus Andersen
2013 IAAF World Championships Photo: Claus Andersen
Damien Warner competes in the decathlon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow Photo: Claus Andersen
Brianne Theisen-Eaton competes in the heptathlon at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing Photo: Claus Andersen
Dylan Armstrong competes in the shot put at the 2013 IAAF World Championships Photo: Claus Andersen
Derek Drouin competes in the high jump at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto Photo: Claus Andersen
Evan Dunfee competes at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing
Crystal Emmanuel, Kimberly Hyacinthe, Jellisa Westney and Khamica Bingham win bronze in the 4x100m relay at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto Photo: Claus Andersen
Justyn Warner and Andre De Grasse in the 4x100m relay at the 2015 IAAF World Championships Photo: Claus Andersen