Usain Bolt

Updated: August 14, 2013




It’s being celebrated as the greatest sports photo ever snapped. Usain Bolt, post world championship 100m win, crowned by a lightning strike over the cauldron he’d just scooted to victory in. Luck or exquisite planning? The man responsible isn’t quite sure either. But what he has managed to do is frame a moment no-one else captured. A freak image that required all the elements to collude and the planets to align. The photographer is a Frenchman by the name of Olivier Morin. He works for AFP – Agence France-Presse and is based in Milan. He’s been a photojournalist for 27 years and is one of the agency’s sport specialists. This is his story, as supplied by AFP.


The photo was taken with the final remote control camera out of five set up on the edge of the field, this one back behind the finish line. Olivier Morin was counting on getting a shot of the winner coming through, arms in the air, with the stadium as the background. That was the idea.

olivier morinUsain Bolt won the race, crossing the finish line with no visible display of emotion.

“I nevertheless pressed the remote control button to set off the cameras’ triggers,” Olivier said.

Olivier reviewed his shots without seeing anything exceptional.

“At first I didn’t see the lightning, because the image was so small on the preview panel.”

He noticed four shots with lightning. Two were useable, as the cloud was lit up and the bolt was perfectly clear.

image“I realised then that I might have something pretty good, and with a bit of luck, it would be the right photo. But I completely underestimated the media storm that this image would generate.”

“In 25 years of career, I have never had an outside, uncontrollable element make the shot. And I think that if I tried for another 50 years, it would never happen again. I really can only take 1% credit for this photo.”

The photo went viral across the social networks, particularly Twitter where it has been retweeted more than 12,000 times. It has also already achieved great international media acclaim. The Daily Mail thinks this shot could become one of the greatest sport photographs of all time. Eurosport called Olivier Morin’s image “career-defining” for Usain Bolt.

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