The 49 Most Mesmerising Sports Photos Of 2014

2014 was a pretty great sports year.

The two annual voids in the sports calendar — February and July — were filled by the Olympics and World Cup respectively, meaning something was always going on in sports over the last 12 months.

It also meant that we got more excellent sports photography than we usually do. Using the archives of Reuters, Getty Images, and the AP, we picked out the 49 most captivating, beautiful, and vibrant sports photos of 2014.

Cross country skiers collapse in exhaustion at the end of a race at the Sochi Olympics.

Chinese motorcyclist Wang Yirong rides in the China Taklimakan Rally in Xinjiang.

Basketball player Aaron Craft reflects after missing a game-winning shot in March Madness.

Synchronised swimmer Anna Voloshina of Ukraine performs at the European Championships in Berlin.

Zhou Lulu of China sets the world record in the women's over 75kg clean and jerk at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

Hockey players from the Ottawa 67's sit in the perfect spot.

Neymar leads Brazil in celebration after beating Cameroon at the World Cup.

A runner gets swallowed by mud at the McVitties Mud Madness race in Northern Ireland.

Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu and his coach Yoshiko Kobayashi go nuts after he sets a world record at the Sochi Olympics.

Michael Phelps makes his comeback at the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, Arizona.

Ding Ning of China prepares to serve in the gold medal ping pong match at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

Spain's synchronised swimming team performs at the European Championships in Berlin.

Tennis player Jelena Jankovic serves at the U.S. Open in Queens, New York.

Players from Olympique Lyon celebrate a goal against Marseille in France's Ligue 1.

England's Samuel Maxwell takes a punch to the jaw at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland.

Grigor Dimitrov hits a shot from the shadows at the Madrid Open.

An Islanders player gets checked into the glass in a game against the Florida Panthers.

Rafael Nadal faces the bubbles after losing to Novak Djokovic at the Sony Open in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Wrestlers grapple at the Freestyle Wrestling World Cup in Los Angeles.

Team Russia prepares for a home game in the Sochi Olympics.

A skier moves through a tunnel after fog cancels events at the Sochi Olympics.

British diver Tom Daley trains at the London Aquatics Center.

Anton Kushnir of Belarus competes in freestyle skiing at the Sochi Olympics.

Russia's Elena Radionova competes for the Bompard Trophy at a figure skating event in Bordeaux, France.

Ski jumper Thomas Diethart prepares for the Olympics in Austria.

NFL player Louis Delmas shows off his teeth after a game against the Atlanta Falcons.

A referee breaks up a fight between Takashi Miura and Edgar Puerta in Tokyo.

Doubles partners Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka prepare to hit the same ball against France in the Davis Cup.

Team Brunel practices for the Volvo Ocean Race in Cape Town, South Africa.

Rugby teams Ospreys and Saracens compete in Wales.

49ers players walk through a tunnel before playing the Broncos in Denver.

A Brazil fan munches a flag after losing to Germany 7-1 in the World Cup semifinals.

Detroit Tigers player Miguel Cabrera spits out water during a playoff game in Baltimore.

Jeff Herbertson jumps a gap at the Red Bull Rampage in Utah.

Chargers player Chris Witt takes the field through a haze of smoke.

Lionel Messi beats five Bosnia and Herzegovina players for a goal at the World Cup in Brazil.

Switzerland's synchronised swimming team competes at the European Championships in Berlin.

Pole vaulter Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland makes an attempt at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich.

Rory McIlroy hits his approach shot on the 18th hole of the PGA Championship in Kentucky.

Cars circle the track at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.

Tilt-shift photography makes cross-country skiers look tiny at the Sochi Olympics.

Novak Djokovic attempts to change shirts at the Australian Open.

Diver David Colturi leaps off a 27-meter cliff in Portugal.

US figure skater Ashley Wagner disagrees with her short program score at the Sochi Olympics.

Swimmers clog the lanes during warmups for the Grand Prix of Santa Clara in California.

Shaun White bends his board to the breaking point during the halfpipe event at the Sochi Olympics.

The Sochi Olympic ski jump hill reflects off Spela Gogelj of Slovenia's goggles.

Dutch striker Robin Van Persie scores a diving header against Spain in the World Cup.

Dancers perform Swan Lake at the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Olympics.

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