In my last full day of shooting, I was excited to cover Team Synchronized Swimming and Athletics highlighted Bolt going for the gold repeat in the 200m final. It was going to be a long day with having to set up the underwater remote at the pool, break it down and pack up my locker there, and then make it over to the track and get a descent shooting spot for the 200M. Setting up remotes for athletics was out of the question because I couldn’t get there in time to do so, and I actually would rather just focus on the event with my cameras in my hands.
In team synchronized swimming, Russia leads all teams into the free routines with a score of 98.100 points after performing a perfectly executed Russian Dance theme. China, bronze medalists in Beijing 2008, finished second with 97.000 while Great Britain, finished seventh with 87.300 at its first team event in the Olympic Games. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge made an appearance up in the stands behind me, cheering for Team GB and I got my paparazzi shots in. I was very happy with the photos I ended up shooting at the synch swimming, especially the underwater camera which was placed at the one position that I knew they would pass through, at the start where they entered the water. For this shot you have to focus slightly outside the water from the bottom of the pool, so my friend Al Bello stood on the pool deck while I focused from the bottom.
At the track, I decided to shoot from from the end of the photo moat just around the bend from the finish line, which had given me great results for the finish and also more importantly for the initial reaction and jubo of athletes. After settling down in a spot I was happy, the rest of the photographers around me were very accommodating and we spent the three hours waiting for Bolt shooting the shit.
It was no surprise that not only Usain Bolt led the Jamaicans into a sweep in the 200 meter sprint for the gold, silver, and bronze, but that the OBS Handheld video guys ran out on the track immediately (and I mean right after!) the athletes crossed the finish line and smothered them with their wide angle lenses, blocking all still photographers from getting a clean shot of the action. At the London Olympics it is really sad and disgusting how bad the TV invasion of the athletes personal space has become immediately after they cross the finish line. I really hope one of the athletes complains (especially when their cameras are a couple inches from their face after they are crying from losing an event) because TV barely gives room for the athlete to move. So most photographers got a great shot of the back of the head of the video idiot, rather than the gold medalist.
The photo if the day came in them men’s 800M final where World Record Holder David Rudisha won his first Olympic gold medal with the kind of world-record performance that has made him almost untouchable the last three years. The 23-year-old Kenyan won the final with his long stride in 1 minute, 40.91 seconds, breaking his own record he set in 2010, and setting the first world record on the track at the London Olympics. After crossing the line, he pumped his fist while the other competitors threw their arms up in the air stunned, and continued to celebrate which made for great photos.
At the end of the night, it was a great feeling turning off the cameras for the last time in London, knowing that it was a job well done and I would soon be home in San Diego with my family. Before I rolled out, I said goodbye to a handful of photographers in the trenches from all over the world who come together every four years to document the best in the world going higher, faster and stronger.