Fri | Feb 28, 2020

Prince Harry can bolt!

Published:Wednesday | March 7, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Prince Harry (left) is presented with a T-shirt by Usain Bolt at the Usain Bolt Track at the University of the West Indies yesterday.
Prince Harry (right) races against Usain Bolt at the Usain Bolt Track at the University of the West Indies yesterday. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator

"What was that!?" track and field king Usain Bolt declared, throwing his hand in the air, puzzled.

The audience burst into laughter.

Dressed in his Jamaican gear with 'Jamaica' emblazoned across his chest, Prince Henry of Wales (known as Prince Harry) was already at the finish line on the Usain Bolt Track at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.

In coming to Jamaica, Prince Harry's dream was to race, and hopefully beat, Bolt during his four-day visit on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of his grandmother, The Queen.

So yesterday while the two were on the track getting ready to do a 20-metre dash, Bolt was explaining something to the Prince and looked away for a moment. Harry seized the opportunity and took off down the track. Bolt heard the laughter from the crowd and turned to see Harry heading as fast as he could to the finish line.

Face red with laughter at the thought of 'beating' Bolt, Harry returned to the blocks for the 'real race'. At the word go, the Prince bolted off once again, but Bolt barely jogged out of the blocks, allowing Harry to 'beat' him for the second time.

It was pure laughter and fun.

Later, over by the UWI Law Faculty, Harry boasted that he had beaten the fastest man in the world.

Ready for showdown

At 9:00 yesterday morning, the Prince had boldly and confidently walked on to the track ready for the showdown. But before the matchup, they sat together with world champion Yohan Blake, coach Glen Mills, minister with responsibility for sports in the Office of the Prime Minister, Natalie Neita-Headley, UWI head of sports Grace Jackson, UWI principal, Professor Gordon Shirley, several athletes and officials for a light conversation, full of laughter.

In giving his welcome, Bolt said he was finally glad to meet the young prince that everyone had been talking about "every day and all night ... some people actually skull work to come see you".

"Who is the biggest threat from England's point of view?" Harry asked.

Bolt looked around, wondering who could that be.

"I want to know who in the British team can beat this man here," he asked again.

With no answer coming, the Prince confidently declared, pushing out his chest, "it's 'cause I'm already here ... I'm in my prime at 25."

Blake told him, "I want to see you at London, when me and Usain create the damage. I don't have anything against the British sprinters, but when you have some great Jamaicans and some great speed with some yam and dumpling, well."

In response to Minister Neita-Headley's statement that she would be "knocking on his door" for help to improve the sporting programme in Jamaica, the Prince said, to much laughter, "anymore help and I don't think anyone else will turn up to the Olympics."

Coach Mills invited Prince Harry to the Jamaica Village at the London Olympics in the summer and the Prince gladly accepted.

Harry told the athletes that Jamaica was proud of them and although it may be quite hard, their achievements affords the next generation the opportunity to try and better them.

"It is a very small country, but it doesn't matter how big you are, it just shows if you got talent then use it and don't go running off to America because you've got a clear talent that your country needs," he ended to loud applause.

Before leaving, the Prince was presented with several souvenirs, including a Bolt autographed shirt, sprint shoes, posters, other gifts and, of course, a shirt with the words emblazoned on the front - "Harry can Bolt".