Photo: Claus Andersen
Photo: Claus Andersen

Olympic photographers: Preserving athletic glory forever


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 the special relationship between athletes and the people who bring their moment to the world.

A collection of Claus Andersen photos: