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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The day Flash Harry beat Usain Bolt in 100m sprint: Royal takes gold in race in Jamaica (with a little help by jumping the gun)

By Rebecca English

When you are facing the fastest man who has ever lived in a 20 yard dash then there is only one thing for it. Cheat.

Not the most sporting option, admittedly. But the grin on Prince Harry’s face as he crossed the finishing line ahead of world record holder Usain Bolt in Jamaica yesterday said it all.

The two men met at an athletics track in the capital Kingston on the first of a four day visit to the Caribbean Island on behalf of the Queen.

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Taking gold: Prince Harry leaves Usain Bolt in his wake as he races him in Jamaica

Harry had already privately admitted to being slightly nervous at the showdown with Bolt, who is royalty in his home country. And with good reason.

The poster boy of athletics holds five world records and three Olympic golds.

His 9.58 second time in the 100m is unlikely to be beaten for some time – if ever.

He also holds the world record over 200m of 19.19.

Called to the starting blocks to limber up, Harry – who was sportingly wearing a tracksuit, running top and trainers in the Jamaican national colours of black, gold and green – took a cheeky sidelong look at his rival and then sprinted off before the officials could even utter the words ‘ready, steady go’.

Ready: The Prince Harry concentrates in the blocks against Usain Bolt at the University of the West Indies

All systems go: Both Harry and Usain burst out of the traps

Odds against: The beaming royal takes an early lead after Bolt fails to live up to his name

Playing for the crowd: Bolt stops and allows Prince Harry to race ahead

To Bolt’s astonishment, he jumped the gun and hared down the track roaring with laughter, flinging his arms out in triumph as he crossed the finish line - and leaving one of the finest athletes the world has ever seen jogging helplessly after him with his hands in the air in mock indignation.

Aides insisted that the race hadn’t been stunted. ‘It was just a spur of the moment thing,’ said one. ‘Prince Harry just went with it. That’s what he is like.’

Fortunately the champion’s ego wasn’t remotely dented and the pair hugged and slapped each other’s backs as they walked, laughing, back to the start.

To make up for his trick, Harry good naturedly agreed to mimic the track star’s famous ‘lightning Bolt’ pose for the cameras.

‘Come on man, let’s do it,’ the prince laughed.

Afterwards Bolt told the Mail: ‘Yeah, man, he cheated. He knew he couldn’t beat me but wanted to go back to London saying he did. I’ve told him I want a rematch at London 2012 but Harry said ‘I’m busy’.

This is how it's done: Bolt shows Harry how to pull off his trademark celebration

He's got the moves: Harry joins Bolt - with the same aplomb as his night club moves

Plan: Harry and Usain discuss race tactics beforehand, left, and afterwards the prince gloats over his victory

‘It was good, though. He cheated, but it is good, he was cool. He is very down to earth and charming. It was an honour and a pleasure to meet him. He is a really laid back guy, a wonderful person. He is professional but no like a lot of the dignitaries you meet.

‘I’m the still the fastest man in the world, so he still has a long way to go.

‘I told him that he better make time for a rematch. Because it’s on.’

Harry is half way through his first week-long visit on behalf of the Queen, to mark her Diamond Jubilee, and has already taken in Belize and the Bahamas.

He was visiting the Usain Bolt Track at the University of the West Indies to pass on the monarch’s best wishes to the Jamaican national team ahead of the London Olympics.

In a question and answer session before the race, Harry and Bolt appeared to get on famously, teasing each other mercilessly.

Bolt told the prince that he had been told to let him win, while Harry, 27, on learning that the athlete was two years younger than him, replied: ‘Yeah, well I was in my prime at 25.’

The prince also wished the Jamaican team luck and promised to meet them in the Athlete’s Village over the summer, saying: ‘You should be massively proud of your country and of him.

‘I know that when I was at school sport was the best thing, being stuck in a classroom wasn’t. I probably shouldn’t have said that!

'If you have got talent use it and don’t go running off to America because you have a clear talent your country needs.’

Pointing to Bolt and rolling his eyes he added: ‘And they tell me that this man hasn’t even reached his full potential yet.’

It was clear that Harry is something of a fan of the champion as, after the race, he pulled out a giant poster of a horse for him to sign.

Aides revealed that the prince has bought a 100th share in a racehorse with some friends that he has, amusingly, called Usain Colt.

The three-year-old bay male – whose sire is Royal Applause - won its maiden race at Newbury last October and is being trained by Richard Hannon, one of the Queen’s trainers.

The syndicate which owns the horse includes Harry’s pals Guy Pelly, Jake Warren (son of the Queen’s racing manager) and folk star Marcus Mumford.

Bolt welcomed Prince Harry to Jamaica by handing him a portrait of himself during the photocall in Kingston. The Prince and the world record holder then posed with a specially made t-shirt which declared that, 'Harry can Bolt'

Namesake: Usain Bolt was happy to pose alongside the Prince with a poster of British racehorse Usain Colt

Getting to know you: Prince Harry and the fastest man on Earth appeared at ease in each other's company as they chatted after their 'race' this afternoon

Blowing in the Windies: Buffeted by Gale force winds, Prince Harry arrived at Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston where he inspected a Police Guard of Honour

The look of love? Prince Harry talks with Miss Bahamas 2011 Anastagia Pierre during a reception for youth leaders, held at the Sheraton Hote in Nassau, Bahamas, yesterday

Bolt, who gave Harry a pair of signed trainers and a Jamaican running top with the name ‘Harry Bolt’ on the back, explained that prince had asked him to sign the poster so he could show his fellow owners.

‘It was meant to be a secret but he has bought a share in the horse which he has named after me. It’s a real honour. He is going to go great, I think. He has already had a couple of wins. ‘

The sprinter later sounded a little worried that he may have given away some secrets Harry could pass on to Britain's Olympic team. ‘I think I taught him a few things about the start, he may just tell the people back home,’ he said.

‘I just can’t wait to get to London, though.’



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