Mattia Ozbot’s image of German decathlete Leo Neugebauer competing at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 has been selected as the World Athletics Photograph of the Year.

The third award announced as part of the World Athletics Awards 2023, the World Athletics Photograph of the Year shines a spotlight on some of the outstanding images captured by professional photographers.

From the 134 images that were submitted, a panel of judges – comprising Valerie Adams, Raquel Cavaco Nunes, Joel Marklund, Pascal Rondeau and Blanka Vlasic – narrowed the entries to 12 shortlisted images and three finalists before deciding on the winner.

Ozbot was surprised with the honour during an assignment to photograph trophies for the World Athletics Awards, which ended up including his own.

“I’m extremely surprised,” said Ozbot. “I knew the photograph was very special. It happened at a unique moment in time, but there were so many other amazing photographs by so many of my great colleagues. I’m very surprised and incredibly happy.”

Ozbot’s photograph captures Neugebauer in free fall after clearing a bar during the decathlon pole vault at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest.

“It was a peculiar moment, because on that day there was also the marathon (taking place) and I decided not to cover the marathon in order to get the chance of an infield bib during the morning session,” explained Ozbot. “It was the second to last day, and it was my chance to have a little more time on the track, and particularly the infield.

“The event was taking place around midday; the sun was high and when I saw the athlete celebrating through my lens, I thought there may be a good photo there. I was also quite lucky because I was there for 15 minutes and it happened right when I was there. So, I’m very happy with the photo and with the award.”

Ozbot is a freelance photographer based in Milan who specialises in sports photography and has a passion for capturing all the emotions that sport can bring. He attended the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 as part of the inaugural World Athletics Photography Workshop.

Other winners already announced as part of the World Athletics Awards 2023 include Laurent Meuwly (Coaching Achievement Award) and Falilatou Tchanile-Salifou (Woman of the Year). Further announcements will be made in the coming days, ahead of the World Athletes of the Year and Rising Stars being revealed on Monday 11 December.

World Athletics


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