Last Tuesday night I went to meet Ollie and Denis at the Nike Make It Count exhibition at 1948 in Shoreditch, London. This campaign has been one of my favourites so far and features some of my favourite athletes (Mark Cavendish, Mo Farah and Perri Shakes-Drayton) in a series of black and white images. I wanted to meet the photographer (I like to know what the person creating visuals looks like) and I heard there was going to be a surprise guest athlete (I was hoping upon hope it was Cav - it wasn’t. Bummer).
The reason why this campaign resonates with me is because the imagery, in my opinion, speaks volumes about being an athlete and being a human. The sweat and expression on each of the subjects’ faces shows determination, pride, passion and success. The pictures, focusing on the subject, are gritty, unpolished and powerful and show a lot of integrity. It reminds you of the physical exertion each of the athletes put themselves through to push boundaries of human achievement.
I think the success of this campaign is the focus on the individual that is the athlete - the human part of them. Hopefully this campaign will further secure these individuals in the minds of the general public. I definitely believe that the vast majority of athletes do not get enough funding, especially when you consider the great lengths they go to to represent their nation, so more awareness of their talent and hard graft can only be a good thing.
Although most of the Make It Count campaign athletes are already in the public eye, they are seen from afar, through a great deal of media spin and journalistic flair. With this campaign I think it’s possible to witness something quite special. You aren’t looking at an image of obvious triumph, you’re looking at a close up image of someone who is physically recovering, who has just pushed themselves further than most are capable of. As Adam Hinton (the photographer) explained at the exhibition, their recovery is literally a minute or less (which didn’t give him much time to capture the shots he required), but for that minute that athlete is temporarily exhilarated and exhausted. It’s quite intimate. And you’re staring right into their faces.
The use of the individual’s own handwriting in all capitals further drives the intensity and passion to win that these athletes feel. It’s strangely motivating. I mean, they’re human and so are we, and we know how it feels to be sweaty and out of breath, so if they can push themselves to win medals for Britain, surely we (I) can roll out of bed and push ourselves (myself) to jog around the streets for a few minutes. There’s no medal, but there’s improved health which, arguably, is better than a disc of gold-plated metal on a ribbon.
With athletes such as London’s own Perri Shakes-Drayton, the loveable Mo Farah and my favourite firecracker, Mark Cavendish, representing Great Britain this summer, I know I will be taking more notice of sport than I usually do. If they ever needed one more ‘GOOD LUCK’, this is mine.
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