IAAF World Championships – Daegu, Korea

Stephen McCarthy on his trip to the IAAF World Athletic Championships:

“That’s it … My first Athletics World Championships completed and what a fantastic experience it was too. The setting for the 13th edition of the IAAF World Athletic Championships was the city of Daegu in South Korea. The third biggest city provided an excellent facility to host the year’s largest sporting event, in the Daegu Stadium. The stadium was situated on a mountain on the outskirts of the city.


My brief for the competition was to capture the highs & lows of the Irish team which all began on Friday afternoon when sprinters Paul Hession and Jason Smyth along with 50km race walker Colin Griffin provided the Irish media with a preview opportunity.

Deidre Ryan was the star of the Irish contingent when she set a new Irish record of 1.95m in qualification for the Women’s High Jump event and with this secured a place in the final along with a spot in next years Olympic Games in London. Deidre went on to finish in joint 6th position in the final…an amazing achievement.

‘The bullet with the mullet’ Ciaran O’Lionarid will also give athletics fans something to look forward to over the coming months in the build up to London after he finished 10th in the Men’s 1500m event. He is a man full of confidence in his running although a hard man to photograph due to the nature of his event and his style of running. The 1500m is a race which the athletes bunch together during their 3 and a bit laps and as Ciaran runs a very tactical race he was not seen at the front of the bunch too many times making him a hard task to capture.

On the opposite side of the coin Allistar Cragg made the final of the men’s 5000m and winning the award for easiest Irish athlete to photograph. His front running during the early stages of both his Heat and Final meant for a good collection of stock imagery.

The race walkers of Olive Loughnane and Colin Griffin provided a change of scenery on the early mornings of Wednesday and Saturday respectively. The only Championships event of the Wednesday was the Women’s 20km Race walk. The heat and humidity played a huge factor, while the athletes suffered also.

The Women’s 4x400m Relay team of Marian Andrews-Heffernan, Joanne Cuddihy, Claire Bergin and Michelle Carey set a new National record time of 3:27.48 in their semi-final and it was all smiles from the girls as they kept their bid for the Olympics on track.

At an event such as the Worlds in athletics remote cameras can gave a huge advantage to photographers, especially when working solo. On Friday I placed a remote camera with a 200-400m lens on a designated camera rack in a bid to gain a second angle on both the Heats of the Women’s 100m Hurdles event and the Men’s 200m event. With Derval O’Rourke up first I shot the race side on close to the last hurdle while I focused my remote on the last hurdle giving a head on picture and also a variety of images from the one moment. I then refocused the remote to the finish line of lane 2 which captured Paul Hession’s unsuccessful attempt alongside Jonathan Astrand, Finland, on qualification for the Semi-Final. For this moment I position myself in the stand on the last bend.


With both morning and afternoon sessions there were plenty of photographic opportunities and with a small Irish contingent this gave me time to try and capture some pictures in a ‘no pressure’ environment and try my hand at sports which I don’t get to cover so often. Here is a selection of my favorite images from the Championships some of which were hosted in the Photo Centre by Nikon Professional Service on their screen:”







Pictures by Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE