Picture Perfect: 'I'm looking at a bunch of Irish supporters with the European bronze medalist stuck on their shoulders'

My favourite picture
Picture Perfect: 'I'm looking at a bunch of Irish supporters with the European bronze medalist stuck on their shoulders'
9 August 2018; Thomas Barr of Ireland celebrates with fans after winning a bronze medal in the the Men's 400m Hurdles Final during Day 3 of the 2018 European Athletics Championships at The Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
9 August 2018; Thomas Barr of Ireland celebrates with fans after winning a bronze medal in the the Men's 400m Hurdles Final during Day 3 of the 2018 European Athletics Championships at The Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

My favourite picture

“I love this picture for a variety of reasons - its uniqueness, the circumstances surrounding how I got the picture and the fact that it is a celebration of Irish sports.

I’ve been covering athletics for Sportsfile for a number of years and when shooting events such as this - the European Athletics Championships - you accept it is extremely rare to get an unusual standalone picture given the number of photographers present and the fact that the stadium shots are pretty much the same around the world.

The background to this picture was that Thomas Barr had won a bronze medal in the 400m Hurdles final earlier that day.

I had lots of shots of him after the race as would be the norm in these types of situations. For some reason, I was working extremely late in the media room that night and would have been one of the last to leave around 10pm (or 9pm, Irish time).

I was heading off to get a train to take me back into the centre of Berlin where my hotel was located and as I walked I could hear that familiar Irish sporting chant of Ole, Ole Ole.

While it might be the soundtrack to every Republic of Ireland away trip you have ever been on it is not the song you would normally hear at an athletics event.

As I got closer I could see all these tricolours and then spotted Thomas up on their shoulders! So here I am, on a side street in Germany, looking at a bunch of Irish supporters with the European bronze medalist stuck in the middle on their shoulders. I couldn’t believe my luck.

The stars just aligned for me. Thankfully I still had my camera around my neck (and not packed away) so I just knocked on the flash and started to snap away.

I’d know Thomas from being around the circuit for a few years and that helped also as they were more than happy for me to take the shots, and perhaps played up a bit for the camera.

At this stage it was close to 9.30pm Irish time and fast-approaching the deadlines of the national papers at home.

There was still a bit of drama in sending it as I missed my train and was on the side of the road mailing it back when I got a lift from a few agency photographers.

Would you believe I ended up sending it from the back of their car. I can't remember what the pick up was like in the papers given how late it dropped but it received a lot of feedback on social media.

Tom was delighted that I had captured such a special moment for him as the group were primarily made up of friends, family and people he knew well.

It can be frustrating for many athletes given they have more bad days than good. It is a career where milliseconds can be the difference between success and failure.

So it was especially nice to be there for one of the good times.

Interview: Colm O’Connor

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