Tribute to sports photographer Peter Jay - 'a rare talent'

Peter Jay, the former Sun and Independent chief sports photographer who has died, had “a rare talent”, a friend and colleague said today.

Keith Elliott, chairman of PMA Media Training – where Jay worked as a tutor for the past 10 years – told Press Gazette: “As well as having the knowledge, he could put that knowledge over. It’s a rare talent.”

Jay, who had cancer, died last week in his London home aged 68. He took some of sport’s most famous pictures, including those of Gordon Banks and Ben Johnson.

Jay was born in Kenya, and came to London in the Sixties. He worked for an agency before joining The Sun in 1970, and later joined The Independent.

In recent years, he made regular trips to Africa to take photos for his own pleasure.

“He was surprisingly quiet, but he had a good brain, he was a very good thinker,” said Elliott.

Jay gave some of his pictures to PMA Media Training, which will now display them in his memory.

The picture of Ben Johnson at the 1988 Olympics 100m final was taken by Jay from the stand, after he chose not to take the “official” picture.

“It was the only picture from the race [which Johnson won, before being disqualified for drug use] that was different,” said Elliott.

Monte Fresco, his long-time friend, colleague and – when working at the Mirror – rival, told the Sports Journalists’ Association: “It is a tremendous loss.

“Peter was a sweet, kind man who was a great photographer with a great eye for a picture.

“He’d suffered with cancer and leukaemia for a very long time, and it had been very hard and painful for him.

“He was respected by all of us photographers and, what’s more, he was respected by the people who he photographed.”

Peter was divorced from his wife, Jenny, and leaves two children, Tom and Nina.

Gordon Banks

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