MARTIN MAZUR / AIPS, DOHA: A stunning open-air ceremony at Khalifa International Stadium, under a shining full moon, saw the climax of the AIPS Sport Media Awards 2021 edition.

There were tears, there was joy, and there were powerful and emotional speeches. It was a night for journalism, for journalists. It was a night in which the football pitch was not to report from the stands but to celebrate a profession that is not a job but a mission and a passion. 

A 90-minute ceremony saw more than 30 journalists, photographers and videographers from five continents become a new reference of sports media excellence. Represented were Serbia, China, United States, France, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Algeria, Namibia, UK, Iran, New Zealand, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Ghana, Uganda, Italy and India in the first AIPS Awards reunion post Covid-19 pandemic. 

AIPS Awards ceremony – back for real

The gala, hosted by Italian journalist Valentina Clemente, kicked off with an emotional moment.

Mentor Riccardo Romani, who has covered the war in Ukraine, introduced the story of Ukrainian journalist Vladislav Dunaienko who, after being part of the Young Reporters Programme in Lausanne in November 2019, chose to become a soldier after the Russian invasion of his territory. 

Romani said: “When I teach my class during our Young Reporters Programmes, I make aware our young students about the challenges posed by the constant changing of journalism. I say. Adapt or Die. Never, in my darkest nightmares I would have thought those three words could become so real and frightening.”

He underlined the power of sport to build bridges, adding: “We, as journalists of sport, are the construction workers of those bridges. Its’ our duty now to work even harder to make them stronger. We owe this to the profession we love so deeply. We owe this to Vlad Dunayenko.”

The awards

In the Photography Sport Action category, winner was Andrej Isakovic (Serbia), for his incredible “The Halo Effect” (AFP), the F1 picture showing Verstappen’s car on top of Hamilton’s, the tyre almost touching his helmet. Isakovic was followed by André Durâo (Brazil) and Félix Sánchez Arrazola (Spain). 

In the Writing – Best Colour Piece category, the first place went to Wufei Yu (China) and WIll Ford (USA), followed by José Encarnación (Puerto Rico) and Nick Hope (UK).

Will Ford picked the prize and said: “Thank you to Wufei Yu, who is in Beijing and couldn’t come because of COVID restrictions, but I know he’s watching the ceremony, and thank you to the Jury and to AIPS for this,” said Ford. The ultramarathon of 100k in China, that ended in the tragedy with 21 runners dead, was published in the magazine Runner’s World. 

The Video Documentary winner was Matthieu Darnon (France), followed by David Harrison (UK) and Christoph Nahr (Germany).

Darnon’s submission was Backdraft (Canal+), that tells the story of Romain Grosjean, who miraculously survived a horrific F1 crash during the Bahrain Grand Prix: his car hit the barriers, split in two, and caught fire. It took 28 seconds for Grosjean to emerge from his burning Haas car. The documentary reveals how Grosjean himself and witnesses experienced that moment of horror. 

In the Audio category, first place wen to Tracey Holmes (Australia), followed by Dario Ricci (Italy) and Ronny Blaschke (Germany).  Holmes paid tribute to “the Afghan athletes, the women that were asking for help, and whose voice was heard.”

Holmes created not only a stunning audio piece for her podcast The Ticket but also managed to set up the rescue mission that saved more than 100 Afghan athletes and their families from the Taliban regime – and she did it all while in hotel quarantine after coming back from the Tokyo Olympics.

In the Photography Portfolio category, the first place went for Ueslei Marcelino (Brazil), followed by Clive Mason (UK) and Loïc Venance (France). 

Marcelino made an impressive Tokyo 2020 boxing portfolio that showed the passion for the sport, from the ambience to the key moment of tasting the golden medal. “This is also for the Brazilian boxers that made their best effort,” said a tearful Marcelino.

Investigative reporting saw three winners: Omar Boudi, Zoher Boudi, for “The drama of Algerian players and their disabled children” (Echorouk TV), a film that showed the team-mates of a football team whose children were born with disabilities, possibly linked to substances they were given without their knowledge of side-effects. Dimitar Tasev (Bulgaria) made another doping investigation with “Doping in deep water” (BTV Media Group). Finally, Michael Uugwanga (Namibia) was awarded for revealing the situation of poorly paid boxers that are risking their lives just for a few coins (Confidente Sport).

In the Video Athlete Profile category, the first place was for William Moss (USA), followed by András Muhi Pires (Hungary) and Mengtong Niu (China).  Moss worked on the story of Jordan Burroughs (NBC), an Olympic and world champion in wrestling that prepared for the Olympics qualifying with one mission: show his family the power of never quitting.

In the Writing – Best Column category, the winner was Kate Rowan (UK). Second came Marcela Mora y Araujo (Argentina) and third was Emanuela Audisio (Italy).

Rowan was unable to attend the ceremony so her award was received on her behalf by Keir Radnedge who described it as “richly deserved.” Her column in The Telegraph had described in shaming detail the trials she faced as a journalist blazing a trial for women reporters in a macho-cuture sports environment.

The Video Short Feature winner was Maziyar Koupidar (Iran). Second came Heidi Iro (Austria) and third were Julien Ababsa and Guillaume Papin (France).

Koupidar worked on an independent production to tell the story of four Afghan sisters refugees in Iran who love football and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

The Young Reporters category had three winners: Joe Allison of Getty Images from New Zealand in Photography, José Encarnación (Puerto Rico) in Writing and Francis Hema (Ghana) in Broadcasting. 

Encarnación’s story was also second in Best Colour Piece, and it is the story of the Camarero racetrack in Puerto Rico, where more than 1400 horses were euthanised in strange circumstances.

The Special categories celebrated the career of Joe Lartey (Ghana), a 95-year-old legend for African journalism.

“I’ve been saying thank you since I left Ghana, and was brought here, and I keep saying thank you. Since the creation of the national association in Ghana, progress was made. And progress in sports journalism will continue until the end of time,” said Lartey, who received an outstanding ovation by awardees and guests in the most emotional moment of the gala. 

Special commendations were given for different subjects:

Sport for Hope saw David Picker (USA) for “A Shared Pastime” (NBC) an emotional video about the baseball team that was created right after Fukushima disaster in Japan, to offer a way out of the disaster;

Sports for the next Generation was for Jonatan Taylor (Ireland) for “Mariah, a boxer dream” (The Olympic Channel), telling the story of a Native American that wants to go to the next Olympics.

Sanket Jain (India) received it for Young Reporter Special Coverage (People’s Archive of Rural India, India) for a story about wrestlers which he wrote and photographed. José Ignacio Pérez Hernández and Miguel Carbonero (Spain) received the a certificate of merit for Interactive Reportage (Marca, Spain), a modern layout telling the story of how one man, the current Colombian ambassador in the US, was kidnapped by Pablo Escobar’s cartel and how football kept him alive. 

Cristina Macfarlane, Ivy Nyayieka and Jo Shelley (UK) received special mention in a category for Human Rights and Gender Equality, for Running as Equals (CNN), a thorough report explaining from all possible perspectives the transgender problem and the many athletes that were left behind by a ruthless system. 

Pier Bergonzi (Italy) received the mention for Outstanding Interview (La Gazzetta dello Sport) following his rare one-on-one with Pope Francis, in which he speaks about football, fair-play, the perils of doping and other sports issues.

A Documentary “Standing Firm: Football’s windrush story” (BT Sport), on the Caribbean influence in British football, Theo Lee Ray (UK) received a mention for Combatting racism and discrimination in sport.

From Uganda, Fred Mwambu was awarded for Original Story, as he reported how COVID-19 tests were being manipulated in order to rule out the best players when they had to play African Champions League fixtures abroad, only to find out that they were negative upon reentering (Monitor).

Finally, Emiliano Nunia (Argentina) received a Special Commandment for Audio Reporting (Radio Villa Trinidad, Argentina), for interviewing the father of Pep Guardiola right after the Champions League semifinal.

Nunia lives in a small town but manages to make interviews that are picked all over the world. 

The winners and finalist nominees:


1: Isakovic Andrej (Serbia), The halo effect – AFP
2: Durão André (Brazil), Sure kick –
3: Sanchez Arrazola Felix (Spain), Tentacles in the sand – Fotorunners


1: Marcelino Ueslei (Brazil), Taste of golden – Reuters
2: Mason Clive (UK), Olympic sailing Tokyo 2020 – Getty Images
3: Venance Loïc (France), Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – AFP


1: Rowan Kate (UK), Groped, kicked and shown the kitchen: What it’s really like being a woman in rugby – The Telegraph
2: Mora y Araujo Marcela (Argentina), Diego’s sleeping –
3: Audisio Emanuela (Italy), Those 11 dreamlike minutes – La Repubblica


1: Ford Will, Yu Wufei (USA / China), 172 runners started this ultramarathon: 21 of them never came back – Runnersworld
2: Encarnacion Jose (Puerto Rico), Camarero racecourse: a money machine that runs with injured and abused horses – Centro de Periodismo Investigativo
3: Hope Nick (UK)‘Refugee Paralympian Ibrahim Al Hussein’s remarkable journey from war-torn Syria’ –


1: Holmes Tracey (Australia), The ticket: Afghanistan rescue mission, Australia steps up –
2: Ricci Dario (Italy), From London to the Hauraki Gulf: Romano vs Joe, the endless rivalry – Radio24-IlSole24Ore
3: Blaschke Ronny (Germany), A contested field (Football in war zones) –


1: Moss William (USA), My pursuit: Life, legacy & Jordan Burroughs – NBC SPORTS
2: Muhi Pires Andràs (Hungary), One for all – ELF Pictures Vimeo
3: Niu Mengtong (China), Marbury: A Beijing boy – Xinhua News Agency


1: Darnon Matthieu (France), Backdraft – Canal+
2: Harrison David (UK), Al Jazeera investigations: The men who sell football – Al Jazeera English
3: Nahr Christoph (Germany), Unified for gold: The German Biathlon Association – ARD


1: Koupidar Maziyar (Iran), Lost dreams: Story of four Afghan sisters – Maziyar Koupidar YouTube
2: Iro Heidi (Austria), Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis – RedBull TV 
3: Ababsa Julien (France), Always get up – France Télévisions


Joachim Awuley Lartey (Ghana)

Omar Boudi, Zoheir Boudi (Algeria), The drama of Algerian players and their disabled children– Echorouk TV
Dimitar Tasev (Bulgaria), Doping in deep water – BTV Media Group
Michael Uugwanga (Namibia), Boxers earning a measly $1000 per fight – Confidénte


1: Encarnacion Jose (Puerto Rico), Camarero racecourse: a money machine that runs on injured and abused horses – Centro de Periodismo Investigativo
2: Jain Sanket (India), In Kolhapur: Wrestlers’ diets, weighty problems – 
3: Yu Wufei (China), From subculture to mainstream: Rock climbing’s rise in China –


1: Hema Francis (Ghana), Against all odds: Pra babies hoping to make it through adversity – TV3 Ghana Limited
2: Rathgeb Thomas (Austria), Car racing without borders: A portrait of Benjamin Doppelreiter – OrfSportPlus
3: Abdallah Chikawe Fatma (Tanzania), A woman has an equal right of playing football even if she comes from countries that practice Islam – Azam TV


1: Allison Joe (New Zealand), Eyes on the ball – Getty Images
2: Moraes Luiza (Brazil), Messi’s first title with Argentina – Instagram – Copaamerica
3: Zeinali Alireza (Iran), Human catapult –


David Picker(USA), A shared pastime – NBC

Jonathan Taylor (Ireland), Mariah, a boxer dream – Olympic Channel

Sanket Jain (India),In Kolhapur: Wrestlers’ diets, weighty problems –

Josè Ignacio Perez Hernandez, Miguel Carbonero (Spain), The man in chains – Marca

Christina Macfarlane, Ivy Nyayieka, Jo Shelley (Kenya / UK), Running as equals – CNN

Pierbattista Bergonzi (Italy), Interview to Pope Francesco – La Gazzetta dello Sport

Theo Lee Ray (UK), Standing firm: Football’s windrush story – Bt Sport

Fred Mwambu (Uganda), How CAF clubs, countries have “weaponised” covid – Monitor

Emiliano Nunia (Argentina), Valentí Guardiola: The builder dad who never imagined to have a son like Pep – Radio Villa Trinidad