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Michael Willson and Tayla Harris unite again to win #WISPAA – Women in Sport Photo Action Awards

Michael Willson and Tayla Harris have united again for a stunning image which has been selected as the winner of the professional category of the 2020 Women in Sport Photo Action Awards – #WISPAA.

Award-winning AFL Media photographer Willson captured AFLW player and professional boxer Harris delivering a knockout blow to rival Janay Harding during their contest for the Australian super welterweight title in November 2019.

The image, titled ‘From The Kick to a Punch’, references the iconic photo ‘The Kick’ that the duo combined for to win #WISPAA in 2019 which shows Harris executing an airborne kick for goal and became an influential image for change after being maligned by online trolls.

This powerful boxing photo was a standout according to #WISPAA judges Senator Richard Colbeck – Minister for Youth and Sport, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians; award-winning journalist and author Samantha Lane; Getty Images Chief Sports Photographer Ryan Pierse and 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 Ryan 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 #WISPAA category for 2020 is an incredible pole vault image by Queensland photographer Casey Sims. The image shows Australian pole-vaulter Elizaveta Parnova clearing a World Championship Qualifier at 4.60m in the Senior Women’s Pole Vault at the Oceania Athletics Championships in Townsville in June 2019.

WISPAA judge Ryan Pierse said: “ This powerful image of the Pole Vaulter Elizaveta Parnova would have sit comfortably in the professional category. 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,” said Pierse.

As winners of #WISPAA in 2020 both Willson and Sims will receive $500 from #WISPAA Prize Partner Quality Mind Global who were blown away by the two winning images.

“Congratulations to all award winners. These extraordinary winning photos speak far louder than my words can convey. We are very proud partners with WSA and look forward to further assisting the growth of women in sport both nationally and internationally,” said Richard Maloney, CEO of Quality Mind Global.

In 2020 #WISPAA also included a People’s Choice Award favourite image. With over 3000 votes, the winning people’s choice image by just one vote was the Surf Lifesaving image ‘Teamwork’ by photographer Malcolm Trees, coming in ahead of the cycling image ‘No Obstacle Too Big’ by Mason Hender.

The People’s Choice favourite ‘Teamwork’ was selected by the judges as one of the two amateur runners-up with two professional runners-up also chosen from the 15 professional and 15 amateur #WISPAA finalists.

The two professional #WISPAA runners-up are:

  1. ‘The Contest’, Netball; Image by Scott Barbour (VIC).
    Kelsey Browne of the Magpies and Gabi Simpson of the Firebirds compete for the ball during the round 9 Super Netball match between the Magpies and the Firebirds at Melbourne Arena on June 23, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.
  2. ‘Up and Away’, Gymnastics; Image by Scott Barbour (VIC).
    Erin Brooks, Zarie Dawson and Aimee Chalk of New South Wales compete in the ACR Senior Acrobatic Gymnastics during the 2019 Australian Gymnastics Championships at Melbourne Arena on June 02, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.

The two amateur #WISPAA runners-up are:

  1. ‘Teamwork’, Surf Lifesaving; Image by Malcolm Trees (NSW).
    The Noosa Bandits who live in Yeppoon competing in cyclonic swells at the Australian Surf Rowers League titles at Mollymook in 2020.
  2. ‘Flying Low’, Touch Football; Image by Matthew Long (NSW).
    Manly Touch Football Premier League player Tayla Clifford flying low.

You can also view all the winners, runners-up and the other 24 finalists’ images here.

Like in 2019, the 2020 #WISPAA finalist images will be made into a photography exhibition which will tour around Australia. If you are interested in hosting the exhibition please register your interest here.

#WISPAA is a product of Women Sport Australia (WSA), the peak national advocacy body for women in sport. Become a member by clicking here.

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