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Para-medallist up for photo award

As a professional athlete Reinhardt Hamman is used to being the subject of photographers’ amazing action shots. But the Strand local is also at home behind the lens, a talent that has earned him a nomination for a coveted South African Sports Award.

The Paralympic gold medallist is one of three sports photographers named as finalists for the coveted Photographer of the Year award at the prestigious annual awards ceremony, which recognises the achievements of the country’s top sports stars. Sports’ crème de la crème will gather for the 13th SA Sports Awards ceremony to celebrate the successes of sportspeople, administrators, volunteers and media in Bloemfontein on Sunday 11 November.

Hamman, who was also a finalist for Photographer of the Year at the 2017 edition of the awards, is up against seasoned photographers Nick Lourens and Steve Haag. The 28-year-old was informed of his nomination the night before the official announcement on Friday 19 October, when an official of the national Department of Sports and Recreation contacted him. “I instantly got goosebumps,” he recalled of the moment the news was shared with him. “I told the departmental official that he had just made my day with the news that I was again one of three finalists for the category.”

Hamman, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy aged five, is no stranger to the local and international sports scene. The para-athlete won the gold medal in the F38 javelin event at the 2016 Rio Olympics as well as two gold medals and a silver at the World Para-Athletic Championships. Earlier this year, he was also part of the most successful South African team at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast of Australia, where he claimed the bronze medal in the F38 shotput event (“Hamman bags bronze in Oz”, DistrictMail, 19 April).

It was through participation in para-athletics competitions and an innate drive to highlight the performances of fellow para-athletes, which fuelled Hamman’s love for photography. “I took up photography while on tour in Brazil in 2014,” he said. “I took it upon myself to share the story of South African para-athletes, as we get very limited media coverage.

“My aim was, and still is, to show the bravery, dedication and ‘superhumanness’ that we as athletes with disabilities possess. I wanted to showcase the fact that we never back down, and we work just as hard as our able-bodied teammates.”

Aside from capturing the country’s top para-athletes in action, you would often find Hamman on the sidelines at other local sports events. He also enjoys being behind the camera at momentous events such as matric dances, engagements and family shoots. “I really enjoy the adrenalin rush of getting to shoot a sporting code I have never captured before, and having to predict where the action will happen next,” he related.

“But my love for para-sports runs extremely high. Being an athlete provides for the inside scoop, and I am able to get the action behind the scenes; those images that the public does not see. I also understand para-sport like the back of my hand, so I know when to expect the action.”

Apart from his nomination for Photographer of the Year for this and last year’s SA Sports Awards, Hamman also scooped the same title at last year’s Cape Town Sports Council awards, and was the runner-up in the category at the 2017 Western Cape Provincial Sports Confederation awards.

“This year has been a great year for me as I was able to get some great photos at para-athletics meets in Germany and Italy,” he said.

“I was also nominated for the Cape Winelands Sports Awards and although I did not win the award, I was proud to stand on the stage as a photographer with a disability. Now, I once again get to represent all disabled photographers at the SA Sports Awards.”

Apart from spending time behind the camera on the track and sports field, Hamman also follows a rigorous training programme in preparation for next year’s World Para-athletics Championships in Dubai and the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

“Before the world championships I will also travel to Europe for a training camp and four or five competitions,” he said.

“And, just after the SA Sports Awards I will also be saying ‘I do’ to the love of my life, Danielle Psomas.”

What is his advice to other photographers with a disability? “Get out there and bring out your creativity. Do not be afraid to publish your work.”

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