If 2020 was the year when sport just about survived, then in 2021 it got back to thriving.
The Covid disruption of the previous 12 months made for a year of almost unprecedented, choc-a-bloc sporting action, with delayed Olympics, Paralympics, football European Championships and a Ryder Cup among the major events added to the usual lineup of annual competition.
Yet the pandemic remained an uneasy influence and there is a stark contrast between some of the pictures included in our round-up as the sporting world flitted in and out of freedom and restriction, normality and anything but.
Some, like Raheem Sterling’s celebration after scoring against Germany at Wembley or Phil Mickelson’s historic PGA Championship triumph, come with the backdrop of euphoric, cheering crowds. In others, most notably those taken at the Tokyo Games, it is empty stands.
Some of the photos in this collection capture truly iconic moments that will likely feature in a pictures of the decade or even century round-up years from now - Emma Raducanu’s disbelief at the US Open, Tom Daley’s tears on the top step of an Olympic podium at last. Others are included for the freakishness and beauty of the photos themselves, as well as the skill taken to capture them.
Here, in our gallery, we take a look at some of the most memorable photos of this unique year.