November 4, 2009 / 4:27 PM / 10 years ago

Portrait of disabled swimmer wins photo prize

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A portrait of a 13-year old swimmer, who lost her right foot when she was 10 months old, was awarded a photography prize at the National Portrait Gallery, its spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Paul Floyd Blake, 47, was awarded a 12,000 pounds ($19,800) for his portrait of 13-year-old swimmer Rosie Bancroft, who hopes to compete in the 2012 Paralympic Games.

“She had just swum a personal best in her event and I think that’s why she has such a confident, self-assured look in the portrait,” Blake said in a statement.

In the shot, Bancroft, wearing a red cap with a pair of goggles perched on her head, turns sideways to look directly at the viewer, resting her elbows on her knees.,

The picture is part of a series called “On Track for 2012” in which each year from 2007 - 2012 he will photograph 12 young athletes with the potential to compete in the Olympics, to be held in London that year.

“The series is probably less about sport than it is about young people growing up and the transition from childhood into adulthood,” Blake said.

Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery who chaired the panel of judges, described the photo as a “study of youthful determination.”

Second prize was given to Vanessa Winship for her shot of a woman in Tbilisi, Georgia. Israel-born Michal Chelbin received third prize for his photo of a 15-year-old inmate of a maximum security prison in Russia.

The pictures will be exhibited from November 5 to February 14 at the National Portrait Gallery, and then at the Shipley Art Gallery in Newcastle and the New Art Gallery Walsall.

Reporting by Catherine Bosley; Editing by Paul Casciato

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