A year ago, the famous image of Tayla Harris taken by photographer Michael Willson, who captured the AFLW player’s distinctive style mid-kick, was selected as the best women’s sport image of the year. The pair have now been honoured for a second time, with Willson again taking out the top prize at the 2020 Women in Sport Photo Action awards for another image of Harris, this time in a boxing ring.
Titled From The Kick to a Punch, the image references last year’s winner, who became an influential actor for change after she was targeted by online trolls. Harris was ultimately immortalised in bronze with a statue erected in Melbourne’s Federation Square.
This year’s winning image shows Harris, who is also a professional boxer with an unbeaten 6-0-1 record as well as an AFLW player, landing a knockout punch to her opponent, Janay Harding, during the Australian super welterweight title in November 2019.
Willson’s image was the standout photo in the professional category, according to the panel of judges, comprising the minister for youth and sport, Richard Colbeck; journalist and author Samantha Lane; Getty Images chief sports photographer Ryan Pierse; and the Women Sport Australia president, Carol Fox.
“Boxing is one of the more difficult sports to capture the big moment. The photographer had a 1/1000th chance to time the perfect moment of the impact of the landing punch, and they nailed it,” said Pierse.
“The image really shows the athleticism and strength of the incredible and multi-skilled Tayla Harris as she landed the fight-ending blow to her opponent.”
The winner of the amateur prize was Queensland photographer Casey Sims, who captured pole vaulter Elizaveta Parnova at the Oceania Athletics Championships in Townsville in June last year.
“This powerful image of the pole vaulter Elizaveta Parnova would have sit comfortably in the professional category,” said Pierse. “The photographer has captured the powerful peak moment of the athlete clearing the bar with a strong arching movement. A sharp, crisp image that stood out from the rest.”
L-R: Kelsey Browne of the Magpies and Gabi Simpson of the Firebirds compete for the ball during the round 9 Super Netball match; Erin Brooks, Zarie Dawson and Aimee Chalk of New South Wales compete in the ACR Senior Acrobatic Gymnastics during the 2019 Australian Gymnastics Championships. Photographs: Scott Barbour
The Contest by Scott Barbour – showing netball players Kelsey Browne and Gabi Simpson competing for the ball – and Up and Away, also by Barbour – a gymnastics shot featuring Erin Brooks, Zarie Dawson and Aimee Chalk – were runners-up in the professional category.
A photograph titled Teamwork, by Malcolm Trees, won the people’s choice award after more than 3,000 people voted, and was runner-up in the amateur category, along with Flying Low by Matthew Long.