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If you flip through the pages of the history book of sports, you will find much more than just statistics about scores, contract amounts, and victories. No, the world of sports is much more than just win or loss, or the numbers that come along. It is about moments that touch the hearts of the people who have their eyes set upon the field. Its throwback time as were are up with some of the most Heartbreaking Photographs in Sports.

25 Heartbreaking Photographs in Sports History
25 Heartbreaking Photographs in Sports History

That is why, some of the moments in sports are etched in the memories of the witnesses. For those who did not get the opportunity to witness such iconic moments, photographs have captured the memories and saved them for the eternity. Let’s take a look at some of the most emotional sports photographs.

Heartbreaking Photographs in Sports History

Jim Peters collapses before reaching the finish line

Jim Peters
Jim Peters collapses 220 yards away

Marathon runner Jim Peters established a 17 minute lead in the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver. However, after running 26 miles, he was only 220 yards away from the finishing line when he collapsed, and struggled in the final few yards. The heart-breaking moment was captured in this picture which is inducted in the 25th place among the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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A moment of silence

Priscah Jeptoo
Deep emotions of Kenya’s Priscah Jeptoo

This photo, one of the most moving and emotional photographs in sports, depicts some deep emotions as Kenya’s Priscah Jeptoo paused to take a moment of silence and contemplation after finishing second at the 2012 London Olympics, 5 seconds behind Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelana. This image is inducted in the 24th place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Abebe Bikila ran barefooted at night

Abebe Bikila
Abebe Bikila ran barefooted

Due to the sweltering heat at the 1960 Rome Olympics, the marathon race was held at night. During that race, Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila approached the Arch of Constantine on bare feet, as he went on to win the Olympic marathon. This photograph captures him on his journey, exuding pride and struggle, and is inducted in the 23rd place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Kerri Strug beats pain and strikes a graceful pose

Kerri Strug
Kerri Strug beats pain and the graceful pose

In 1996, during the Atlanta Olympics, Kerri Strug was seen holding a graceful pose as she stuck the landing on her vault, even though she had an injured ankle. With the hopes of a gold medal for the US resting upon her, she fought her pain and secured the title for her country. This picture is inducted in the 22nd place among the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Federer’s loss at the Australian Open

Roger Federer
Roger Federer after losing the five-set final

This picture of Roger Federer shows him looking at the trophy at the Australian Open, and realizing that he would have to wait a little longer to equal Pete Sampras’ record of 14 majors. He lost in a five-set final, and the moment established the 21st place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports of all time.

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WWE mourns Eddie Guerrero’s death

Eddie Guerrero
WWE giving tribute to Eddie Guerrero

One of the most charismatic wrestlers and a great human being, Eddie Guerrero, passed away suddenly, due to acute heart failure in 2005, leaving the world of wrestling shocked. The stars from WWE RAW roster were reduced to tears as they gathered to pay tribute to him. This emotional photograph holds the tears his fellow fighters shed for him, and is placed at the 20th position on our list of most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Monica Seles gets stabbed

Monica Seles
Monica Seles gets stabbed by a Steffi Graf supporter

Being a fan sometimes brings out the worst emotion, as was evident when Seles was stabbed during a 13 game by a Steffi Graf supporter, in Germany. The two women were great competitors at that time and battled each other for the top spot. This picture, with Seles writhing in pain, silently brings out the hateful emotions of her stabber, and is thus at the 19th place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports. It was followed by a halt in her career for two years.

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Ayrton Senna crashed car

Ayrton Senna
The tragic accident of Ayrton Senna

Touted as one of the best drivers in the modern F1, Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna was only 34 when his car met with an accident in the 7th lap at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994. Head injuries during the crash killed the talented driver. This photograph shows his crashed car, with his helmet lying next to it. It is inducted in the 18th position on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Brotherhood above rivalry

Oliver Kahn
Oliver Kahn consoling Santiago Canizares

As Valencia lost 5-4 to Bayern Munich during the 2001 Champions League Final, their goalkeeper Santiago Canizares fell to the ground, heartbroken. Bayern Munich’s keeper, Oliver Kahn, showed true sportsmanship as he refused to celebrate, and console his Spanish rival. This photo captures a moment of transcendence of rivalry, and deserves the 17th position in our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Helpless tears

Sarita Devi
Sarita Devi after she was robbed of her gold medal

At the 2014 Asian Games, India’s Sarita Devi was robbed of her gold medal, and an unfair ruling led to Korean boxer Park Jina’s victory even after Sarita dominated since the second round. After a failed appeal of review, she stood on the podium, crying, and refused to take the bronze medal. The moment has been perfectly captured in this photo, which acquires the 16th place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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David Beckham’s tear-filled goodbye

David Beckham
We will never forget you David Beckham

One of the most skillful and most glamorous football players, David Beckham, retired from the sport in 2013. At the end of his last game for Paris Sait Germain, he walked out, with tears in his eyes, amidst cheers from fans. This moment created undoubtedly one of the most moving sports photos which is inducted in the 15th position on our list of emotional photographs in sports.

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14. Magic Johnson makes a shocking announcement of retirement

Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson announcing his retirement

Magic Johnson, one of the most talented basketball players the world has ever known, declared in 1991 that he was retiring. This was a shocking moment, but more shocking was the reason behind this decision – he had tested HIV positive. The moment of his announcement was that of shock and sadness, and the picture grabs the 14th place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Zinedine Zidane walks off the trophy

Zinedine Zidane
Zinadine Zidane going out of the field

At the end of a glorious soccer career, Zinadine Zidane went out of the field because of a red card on his final match. What should have been a prestigious award to mark the end of such a star’s career was replaced by a punishment. As he walked out in the worst way possible, he passed the 2006 World Cup trophy, and the moment made it to the 13th place among the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Derek Redmond’s father helps him finish race

Derek Redmond
Like Father Like Son

Derek Redmond was running in the 400 m race at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 when his hamstring snapped, and he was unable to continue. But his father helped him complete the race. This photograph eternalizes a moment from the journey that Redmond covered with his father, and is inducted in the 12th place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Pete Sampras cries after the death of his coach

Pete Sampras
“Win it for your coach, Pete!”

Tennis player Pete Sampras’ coach, who was suffering from brain cancer, had suffered his third stroke and eventually died. This was before the 1995 Australian Open. During the 5th set of the match, a spectator tried to encourage him by shouting, “Win it for your coach, Pete!” As Sampras broke down, the moment was captured, creating one of the most sentimental sports photos which is inducted the 11th place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports. He did manage to win for his coach.

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Serena’s fiery celebration

Serena Williams
Fiery celebration of Serena Williams

This picture of tennis hero Serena Williams was taken during the 2007 Australian Open finals against Maria Sharapova. Williams, unseeded at that time because of her world ranking of 81, went on to beat Sharapova. The lady’s raw emotion of fierce joy is palpable here, inducting it to the 10th place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Bengal Tiger celebrates

Sourav Ganguly
Sourav Ganguly celebrating in Lord’s balcony

Former Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly, always noted for his attitude and pride, was seen baring his torso and swinging his shirt above his head as he stood at Lord’s balcony, and his boys in blue beat England in their own ground in 2002. Ganguly took his sweet revenge from Flintoff who had charged, shirtless, in India’s Wankhede Stadium, just a few months back. Thus, the Bengal Tiger instilled a feeling of pride and celebration among all Indians. This moment, instilled in the mind of every Indian, makes a powerful picture which is inducted in the 9th place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Matthias Steiner’s Olympic disaster

Matthias Steiner
Matthias Steiner lost balance while lifting 432 pounds

During the 2012 London Olympics, defending weight-lifting champion Matthias Steiner lost balance while lifting about 432 pounds, and the barbell hit his neck. This heartbreaking image, which captures the man’s pain on his face, as he gets physically hurt, and his dreams shatter, too. Indeed, it deserves to be in the 8th place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Why should boys have all the fun?

Brandi Chastain
Brandi Chastain celebrating by removing her shirt

US footballer Brandi Chastain, after kicking the penalty shot that won her team the 1999 Women’s World Cup, celebrated in a way that’s common among male footballers, but unconventional among women – by removing her shirt, bringing a surge of many emotions of positivity and empowerment among women. The photo acquires the 7th place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Football on one foot

Football on one foot
Maxwell Fornah and Victor Musa playing football

This photograph at the 6th place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports history, undoubtedly deserves its place, as Maxwell Fornah and Victor Musa, members of the Single Leg Amputee Sports Club of Sierra Leone, play football in Freetown. These members are among the 6000 amputees who lost their legs to a brutal civil war, but not their spirit.

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Phil Mickelson’s leap of joy

Phil Mickelson
Phil jumped into the air after victory

Golfer Phil Mickelson made an 18-foot putt on the 18th hole during the 2004 Masters, and bagged a victory. To celebrate the big moment, Phil jumped into the air, and was caught on camera in the act, as his fans celebrated his victory with him. The picture acquires the 5th position on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Ervin Kovacs’ dive

Ervin Kovacsdive
Ervin Kovacs taking his dive as his prosthetics wait

One of the most heart-wrenching, and yet strangely uplifting moments from the Paralympics of 2004 turned out to be one of the lost iconic photos in the world, and clinched the 4th place on our list of most heartbreaking photographs in sports. In this photo, swimmer Ervin Kovacs from Hungary is seen taking his dive into the water, as his prosthetics wait by the pool. Kovacs won a silver medal in the race.

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Flying Staubach

Flying Staubach
Roger Staubach have a leap of joy

During a 1963 match at Annapolis, in which the US Naval team locked horns with Maryland in a match of American football, the Navy won, and Roger Staubach have a leap of joy. The moment was caught on camera in this beautiful still, where Staubach appears to be literally flying with glee, and the picture deserves the 3rd place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Cristiano Ronaldo in tears

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo crying at the Euro 2004 final

Young Cristiano Ronaldo was seen crying after his team Portugal lost to Greece in the Euro 2004 final. Thus, his hope of his first major silverware was crushed. Ronaldo, who still shows the same excitement about soccer as he did then, had given his best. This heartbreaking image is inducted in the 2nd place on our list of the most heartbreaking photographs in sports.

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Sachin Tendulkar bids farewell

Sachin Tendulkar
The Farewell of the Great Sachin Tendulkar

After a career of 24 years, cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar bid farewell to the world of international cricket. The moment, a heart-breaking one for not just Indians but cricket lovers all over the world, was captured in this image that’s is inducted in the 1st place on our list of the most emotional sports photographs of all time.

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Humans are capable of feeling, showing and acting upon a wide range of emotions – happiness, sadness, pride, jealousy, brotherhood, vindictiveness, loyalty, hatred, pain, and a lot more. It seems that on the sports field, these emotions come out, as well. That’s what makes sports so special – it’s not just about entertainment, but a lot of emotional and sentimental attachment. These emotional photographs in sports history freeze such moments of outbursts for the eternity.

Hope you liked this list of Heartbreaking Photographs in Sports.

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Ethical Word Hackers is a team of three young writers, Sourav Das, Oendrila De and Anirban Chowdhury. While Sourav is a pursuant of Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering and has a flair for writing, Oendrila happens to be pursuing MA in Mass Communication and a freelance writer. Anirban, on the other hand, is a part-time marketing executive at a news agency. But, they all have a common interest in varied subjects, like Sports, Literature, Arts, Computer Games, Scientific Discoveries, Social Issues: almost anything and everything on the planet. The journey through their expressions are likely to be enjoyable. JSON