Leon Neal, AFP staff photographer and Nikon UK ambassador: “My assignment for Rio 2016 was to cover the beach volleyball in the fantastic custom-built arena on Copacabana beach. Never having shot the sport before, my only reference point was that in London 2012, the team would leave before anyone else and return after we’d had dinner, only to be rarely spotted stumbling around the hotel corridors like ‘Walking Dead’ extras. Working with the 12 match-per-day schedule for the last six days, I can now thoroughly understand why there were looking so drained.
One of the shots every photographer is looking for is the classic Superhero dive through the air, with no ground contact, which is remarkably hard to get, mainly due to having to photograph through the other three players on the court. Nearly every time it happens, someone runs in front of you, or the player dives behind the net support. Thankfully, the venue gives photographers the chance to work from nearly any position so the options are there to move around as you hunt for the elusive dive.
Now, just over half way through the beach volleyball tournament, I have a serious amount of respect for the moves these men and women pull off at incredible speed in the Brazilian heat. Personally, I think I’ll stick to just laying on the sand with a cocktail, thanks.”