Behind the Lens: 2008 Olympian pole vaulter, midair, making history

April 27, 2012 | By Harry How | Olympics, Sport

I was one of a small number of photographers in the roof of the Olympic Stadium who were allowed to take positions in the catwalk for a daylong shoot. This was the last event of the session and we were all looking forward to coming down as we were in tight quarters for hours and it was very, very hot.

I like the photo because the sky blue mat gives the appearance that Elena is floating in the sky. Her unobstructed reaction and the position of the pole were so lucky. The fact that it was a world record and won her the gold medal makes the photo even more meaningful as it epitomizes Olympic competition.


Elena Isinbaeva of Russia celebrates successfully jumping a new World Record of 5.05 in the Women's Pole Vault Final at the National Stadium on Day 10 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 18, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: Harry How has been a Getty Images photographer since 1997 — his love for sports and photography led him to the California sunshine. His work appears in all the leading publications, Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine, Time Magazine, USA Today, The Guardian and the New York Times to name a few. But his most satisfying moment as a photographer came when he was mistaken as a competitor at the Ironman race in Hawaii. The photo above is one of his favourite Olympic Games images, featuring Elena Isinbaeva of Russia as she makes her world record pole vault.

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