Photographer Shearman is honoured

Mark Shearman, the first photographer ever to be allowed membership of the British Athletics Writers’ Association, has been made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List.

Mark Shearman MBE: been covering sport for more than half a century
Mark Shearman MBE: been covering sport for more than half a century

Shearman, 70, has covered 13 Olympic Games in his career, beginning in Tokyo in 1964, and has been the official photographer for the national governing body of athletics, and of Athletics Weekly, for the last four decades.

“If I get through Rio and go on to Tokyo in 2020, that’ll be going full-circle. I doubt if anyone else will manage that, though I may be using a Zimmer frame by then,” Shearman said.

Shearman first started photographing sport in 1962, when he went to Tooting Bec track in south London to capture a British record attempt in the pole vault by Trevor Burton. “My brother suggested that I send some of my pictures in to this little magazine,” Shearman said, explaining the start of a working relationship with AW that has continued, almost uninterrrupted, ever since.

“They couldn’t have had many pictures sent in that week, because they used one of mine on the cover.”

Shearman’s images have graced the cover of Athletics Weekly, Running Magazine, Runner’s World – in the United States as well as the UK editions – Athletics Today, and the International Track and Field Annual, and also been used by most national newspapers over the last 50 years.

Originally employed by the government’s information ministry, Shearman has worked as a full-time sports photographer for more than 40 years. Through acquisitions as well as his own published work, he has built up an exceptional archive of athletics images. When Practical Photography magazine ran a feature on him, it covered seven pages.

“If we ask Mark for a picture of somebody, it’s highly unusual for him not to have one,” Jason Henderson, the editor of Athletics Weekly, said. “Not only does he have the skill and experience to know how to consistently get great photos of an athlete moving at high speed, but he’s also ultra-organised during the countless hours he spends sorting out images away from the track.

“Mark has literally been an ever-present at the top British and international athletics meetings for many years and the New Year honour is thoroughly well-deserved,” Henderson said.

Randall Northam, the former SJA treasurer, had forged Shearman’s working relationship as “official photographer” with what was then the Amateur Athletic Association 30 years ago. They still work together on the IAAF-backed international annual: “Mark has consistently been the best athletics photographer I have come across,” Northam said.

“I am delighted and proud to have been named in the New Year honours list to receive an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen for services to sports photography,” Shearman said. “What has been really pleasing has been the messages of congratulations I’ve received from numerous colleagues in the business.”

Shearman won’t be resting on his laurels just yet: on Friday, it’s a flight to Antrim, for the first international event of 2014.



Mon Mar 24: SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, Grand Connaught Rooms, London
Mon Apr 14: SJA Spring Golf Day: Croham Hurst GC, Surrey. Booking details to be announced