Pictures that tell more than just the story

From basketball to football, from America to Australia: the year's best photographs

Sports reporters can disagree with their photographic colleagues on any number of issues, but even the most grudging wordsmith would agree that the best pictures can tell as much as any number of the best crafted words.

The art of the sports photographer is now recognised in a number of award schemes, one of the most prestigious of which is the International Olympic Committee's annual "Best of Sport" competition. The best photographs from this year's contest - the seventh - are published in a book, IOC Best of Sport Photographic Contest/Best 7 (Kensington West Productions, pounds 19.99).

The book is a wonderful collection of pictures taken all around the world. It proves that the importance of an event need have no effect on the quality of the phot-ographer's work. College basket- ball might raise little interest outside the US but the drama and bea- uty of John Biever's photograph reproduced here is undeniable.

One of the most crucial qualities a sports photographer needs is an eye for the unexpected, plus speed of thought and action. The photographs reproduced here are all colour, but the book has a strong black and white element; indeed, the Independent's Robert Hallam won the black and white portfolio section.

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