Rough Diamond

Photographer Steven Paston made a lengthy trip to Glasgow to cover Diamond League athletics.

“Time to drop the pole and pick up the camera; summer can officially start, it’s the athletics season! I’ve been involved in athletics since the age of 11 and, without making myself feel too old, I’ve competed for my local athletics club – Herne Hill Harriers in Tooting Bec – for 22 years now.”

General view of the Mens 5000 meters   steven paston keep
General view of runners casting a shadow on the track during the Mens 5000 meters. Photo steven paston


“In all that time I’ve tried almost every single event, but people are always surprised when I tell them that the event I specialise in is the pole vault, considering the technical and gymnastic nature of the event, oh, and the fact that I tower at a height of just 5ft 4in.”

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Poland Pawel Wojciechowski in action during Mens Pole Vault. Photo steven paston

“I have covered all of the major athletics events in the UK, both indoor and outdoor, over the past 6 or 7 years. One of my personal highlights was back in 2005 at Crystal Palace, when I photographed Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva as she broke her own world record and became the first woman to clear the five metre mark. On that night the former men’s world record holder, Sergey Bubka, was in the crowd and afterwards he made the cheque presentation to Isinbayeva, a scenario he was familiar with from his career when he broke the world record again and again.”

Athletics – Norwich Union London Grand Prix – Crystal Palace – London – 22/7/05 Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia making a new world record to become the first woman to break the 5 metre mark Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston


“This year one of the Diamond League events was in Glasgow, so living in South London I was faced with a 415 mile / 7 hour drive to Scotland. As part of Action Images’ coverage I shoot the press conferences and photo opportunities in the days leading up to the events. These are generally a mixture of staged shots set up by the organisers, and chances to take individual athletes aside to shoot one on one portraits.”

Sainsburyís Indoor Grand Prix Preview
Athletics – Sainsburyís Indoor Grand Prix Preview – Crowne Plaza Hotel, Holliday St, Birmingham – 14/2/14 Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce of Jamaica poses ahead of the Sainsburyís Indoor Grand Prix Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Steven Paston Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.


Scotland Eilidh Child pose after the press conference steven paston keep
Scotland Eilidh Child pose after the press conference steven paston keep


“With my colleague Pete Cziborra driving up to Glasgow the day before the event, there would be two of us covering the Friday night and Saturday afternoon sessions, with Pete shooting head on and myself infield. This was my first chance to see Hampden Park before the Commonwealth Games, so it was important for me to work out logistics, such as the security measures entering the stadium, how far the photographer’s room is, what the head on position will look like and where general view can be taken during the Games.”

General view of the Mens 5000 meters   steven paston keep
General view of the Mens 5000 meters at Hampden Park. Photo steven paston

“Diamond League events usually attract a host of big name athletes, and Glasgow was no different, with a line up including Yohan Blake, David Rudisha, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, David Weir, Blanka Vlasic, and more. When the field is this competitive you know you will get a high level of performances.”

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Great Britain’s David Weir in action during the Mens T53-54 1500 meters steven paston keep


“Shooting from the infield position requires a certain level of time keeping, and a general awareness of what is happening around you. There are times where I need to shoot one round of a field event, then run to the other side of the infield to cover another field event, all the while keeping an eye on which track events are taking place at the same time, before heading back to the first field event.”

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Great Britain Jonathan Peacock and USA Richard Browne in action during the men T34 100 meters steven paston keep


“It is well worth it in the end as you able to be a little more creative with the images that you shoot, whereas the head-on track images tend to be typical editorial winners and losers crossing the line, but on the flip side these get wider coverage in the newspapers.”

CRO Blanka Vlasic in action during the Women High Jumpsteven paston keep
CRO Blanka Vlasic in action during the Women High Jump steven paston keep


“One of the main stories of the meeting was Jamaica’s Yohan Blake racing in the men’s 100 metres, the final race on Friday, alongside a few British athletes. The focus was always set to be on Blake who, on paper, should win comfortably. However, at around 50 metres into the race, Blake pulled up with a hamstring injury so I continued to focus on him for his reaction, ignoring the finishers crossing the line. I didn’t have a clue who had won, but I knew the news story would be Blake’s injury, especially with the Commonwealth Games just a over a week away.”


Jamaica’s Yohan Blake falls during the men’s 100 metres. Photo: Pete Cziborra

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Jamaica Yohan Blake lays injured during the Mens 100 meters final steven paston keep


“So with the Diamond League ticked off, I head back down to London, with the Anniversary Games at Horse Guards Parade in my schedule, a completely different kind of event, with just a handful of events on show. After that it’s another long drive back to Glasgow for the Games, and if I can’t compete in the pole vault myself, I will do the next best thing and stand right next to them with my camera in hand instead.”



Rough Diamond

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