When photographing any sport it is very important to know the keypoints where one must take the photo. For instance in gymnastics there are some holding positions and some transitions that a gymnast must do and perform because this is what he or she is judged on. In athletics all the different items got some keypoints which look nice on a photo and in most circumstances will display how correct the technique of the athlete is. For instance in the javelin item one must take the shot when the athlete is performing the crossover just before the throw itself. In most items there are more than one point where one can take a photo.
To take the photo exactely at the right point take a lot of practice and a motodrive on a camera normally doesn’t help because you want just one photo and that is the right photo at the right keypoint. In 1984 i bought a book called Action Photographers and in that book Tony Dufffey (Founder member of All Sport now called Getty Images) wrote one must take a certain sport or item so much that it became really slow in the viewfinder. At that stage i didnt really understand but years later round 1993 i first experience this when i did a lot of athletic photos and experience this slowmotion effect in the hurdler items when taken the athletes right on top of the hurdles.
The photo below i took on 21 February 2009 at a South Freestate schools athletics meeting. I used a Nikon D3 and a 600mm F4 lens. My setting on the camera were 1/800sec at F4.5 and ISO – 500. Oh yes and remember if you see the keypoint through the viewfinder then you know you have missed it because the shutter will be close when you take it exactely at the right point.