Black History Month: 21 Iconic Sporting Images of the 21st Century


From Denise Lewis securing Olympic gold in 2000 to Raheem Sterling scoring against Germany at Euro 2020, BBC Sport has selected 21 of the most iconic black sporting images of the 21st Century.

A gymnast becoming the GOAT, the birth of global megastars and perhaps the greatest sporting comeback of all time… which one of these moments means the most to you?

Have your say – and suggest other iconic images – in the comments section at the bottom of this article.

Denise Lewis celebrates winning gold
24 September 2000 – Great British Olympic athlete Denise Lewis celebrates winning gold in the heptathlon at the Sydney Olympics
Pele holds his player of the century award
11 December 2000 – Football great Pele was voted joint Fifa player of the century, along with Diego Maradona. The Brazilian, now 80, is regarded as one of the best footballers of all time, winning three World Cups and scoring 77 goals in 92 games for Brazil. Pele is also one of just four players to have scored in four separate World Cups
Muhammad Ali holds a UCP bear and kisses Yasin Shelton, a cerebal palsy patien
14 March 2001 – Muhammad Ali kisses Yasin Shelton, a cerebral palsy patient. Ali, who died in 2016, was known as a great humanitarian as well as for his legendary boxing career
Serena Williams applauds her sister Venus who holds the 2001 US Open trophy
8 September 2001 – Venus Williams beats sister Serena 6-2 6-4 to win the US Open as history is made – the first Grand Slam final between two black players and the first between sisters in the Open era. Venus has won seven Grand Slam singles titles in total – two at the US Open, five at Wimbledon – but Serena has gone on to win 23, one short of the all-time record. Venus was the first tennis player to win a medal at four Olympic Games
Mike Tyson is knocked out by Lennox Lewis
8 June 2002 – Lennox Lewis secures one of his most famous victories with an eighth-round knockout of former undisputed world heavyweight world champion Mike Tyson in Memphis to defend his WBC, IBF, IBO and The Ring titles. Lewis is the last unified world heavyweight champion to date, a feat he achieved in 2000
Dame Kelly Holmes crosses the finishing line to win the 800m at the 2004 Olympic Games
23 August 2004 – Dame Kelly Holmes takes gold in the 800m at the Olympics in Athens – and would go on to complete a double by winning the title. She took her Olympic medal total to three, after she won 800m bronze at Sydney 2000
Lewis Hamilton celebrates his first ever World Driver Championship
2 November 2008 – Lewis Hamilton, the first black driver to race in Formula One, wins the first of his record-equalling seven world championships, clinching the title with McLaren at a dramatic final race in Brazil
Kobe Bryant celebrates his fifth NBA Championship
17 June 2010 – Kobe Bryant, widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, wins his fifth and final NBA title with Los Angeles Lakers, where he spent his entire career. He is also named NBA Finals most valuable player for the second year running. Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January 2020; he was posthumously voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame later that year
Jessica Ennis-Hill bites her Olympic gold medal
4 August 2012 – Jessica Ennis-Hill celebrates winning Olympic gold after smashing her own British record in the heptathlon on ‘Super Saturday’. This was the first of three track and field gold medals to be won in just 44 minutes for Great Britain as Greg Rutherford secured gold in the long jump and Mo Farah won gold in the 10,000m
Mo Farah celebrates his second gold medal of the 2012 Olympic games
11 August 2012 – Britain’s Mo Farah, who had already won the Olympic 10,000m title on Super Saturday, secures his second gold of London 2012 with victory in the 5,000m
Odell Beckham Jr makes a catch in the NFL with three fingers
23 November 2014 – Odell Beckham Jr of the New York Giants makes one the greatest catches in NFL history, snagging the ball with just three fingers while falling into the end zone
LeBron James blocks Andre Igoudala to seal a 3-1 come back
19 June 2016 – LeBron James makes ‘The Block’ – an iconic moment in basketball history. With less than two minutes left in the deciding game of the NBA Finals, Cleveland Cavaliers forward James chases down Golden State Warriors’ Andre Igoudala and somehow blocks his scoring attempt. It means the game remains tied at 89-89. In the time that remains, Cavaliers nudge ahead to win 93-89, completing an unprecedented comeback from 3-1 down to win the NBA Finals. James, widely considered one of the NBA all-time greats, is a four-time NBA champion, four-time NBA MVP and has scored more play-off points than anyone else. Off the court, James has become renowned for his charity efforts
Usain Bolts celebrates with his signature lightning bolt pose
14 August 2016 – Usain Bolt celebrates in Rio, having won his third consecutive Olympic men’s 100m final. He would complete an historic triple double, winning both the 100m and 200m Olympic men’s events in 2008, 2012 and 2016
Nicola Adams holds her second Olympic boxing gold medal
20 August 2016 – Nicola Adams becomes the first women’s double Olympic boxing champion, four years after becoming the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing. In 2012, she also became the first openly LGBT person to win an Olympic boxing title. Adams went on to become the first celebrity to be paired with a same-sex partner on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing
Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid during the national anthem alongside Nate Boyer
1 September 2016 – NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneels alongside San Francisco 49ers team-mate Eric Reid during the US national anthem. Kaepernick said he was inspired to make the gesture after a meeting with former special forces officer Nate Boyer (right). Kaepernick took the knee in protest against police brutality and racial inequality in the United States. He has not played for an NFL team since 2016, and continues to be at the forefront of the fight for social justice. Many athletes around the NFL and the world continue silent protests in the same manner.
Tiger Woods celebrates winning the 2019 Masters
14 April 2019 – Tiger Woods wins the 2019 Masters, his first major win in 11 years and 15th overall. Woods overcame personal and health issues to make what is regarded as one the greatest comebacks in sport. In 2009 he was in a car crash that eventually led to admissions of infidelity and the breakdown of his marriage. Woods would also suffer from chronic back pain that required spinal fusion surgery. In 2017, Woods was found asleep at the wheel of his car, later pleading guilty to reckless driving. It had been a long way back for one of the greatest golfers of all time
Jofra Archer kneels in celebration after winning the Cricket World Cup with England
14 July 2019 – England bowler Jofra Archer celebrates winning the Cricket World Cup. Archer bowled the Super Over as New Zealand were beaten by the slimmest of margins in an enthralling final at Lord’s
Siya Kolisi lifts the Webb Ellis trophy as South Africa win the Rugby World Cup
2 November 2019 – Siya Kolisi – who became the first black man to captain South Africa, when he did so in a Test match against England in 2018 – is the first black captain to win the Rugby World Cup
Raheem Sterling
29 June 2021 – Raheem Sterling celebrates opening the scoring in the Euro 2020 knockout game against Germany. Sterling played in an integral role in an England side that reached their first-ever European Championship final – losing to Italy on penalties
Simone Biles
3 August 2021 – Simone Biles celebrates winning a bronze medal in the women’s balance beam at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It had been a difficult Olympics for the American gymnast, who withdrew part way through the women’s team final after suffering from the ‘twisties’, then pulled out of four other events and did not compete until the balance beam final. Biles received praise for prioritising her own mental health above competing, Biles, who won four golds at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, is the joint most decorated gymnast in history
Kadeena Cox celebrates her Cycling Olympic gold
27 August 2021 – Kadeena Cox celebrates retaining her Paralympic gold medal in the C4-C5 track cycling time trial. In 2016, Cox had become the first British Paralympian since 1984 to win gold in two sports when she also won the T38 400m sprint.

Source: BBC


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