Athletes at the end of their 5000m heat at IAAF World Championships London 2017 (Getty Images) © Copyright

Richard Heathcote’s story behind the picture – capturing heartbreak and exhaustion in London

Experienced Getty Images photographer Richard Heathcote offers his take on his overhead shot of the end of the 5000m heats at the IAAF World Championships London 2017.


"During the World Championships, I had installed a few remote cameras above the track for certain races at various angles. Close to the finish line, we had a camera looking down on the line for sprint finishes but I decided to frame another one after the line for looking down in the hope of taking shots of athletes collapsing after finishing the decathlon 1500m and the 5000m and 10,000m races.

"The camera was triggered by a radio transmitter, so I was shooting with my normal cameras from another position lower down in the hope that the runners on the track had stopped in the area I had planned.

"Often the photographer seems to concentrate on the victor once they cross the line in a race. To see other athletes who have given everything on the track collapse in exhaustion I believe is interesting and gives the viewer a wider appreciation of the sport.

"I was pleased the plan worked and that I had pulled off the shot. Too often you can have an idea for a remote and nothing happens under the lens.

"Athletics is such a great sport to cover with its various disciplines both on the track and in the field, providing a multitude of angles and images.

"This image, I believe, gives a perspective on the whole race. It shows that very often only a small number of athletes ever achieve recognition for their efforts."

Steve Landells for the IAAF