March 10, 2012

Prince Harry plays volleyball in Brazil after running Sport Relief Mile (11 PICS)

Hit: wearing a shirt and baseball cap in the Brazilian colours and his name, Prince Harry gives it his all in a game against some of Brazil's top beach volleyball players

Prince Harry's first foreign tour saw him today playing beach volleyball in Rio de Janeiro, having a game of beach rugby and running a mile for charity - wearing a mask of his brother.

Harry was at the Great Sports Day on the city's stunning Flamengo Beach organised by the British Government to showcase the best this country has to offer.

Of his three activities, it was his game of beach volleyball on Rio Janeiro's Flamengo Beach that - for obvious reasons - garnered most attention.  

The prince put on a shirt and baseball cap in the Brazilian colours with his name and the number 11 on the back. Once or twice he fell to his knees in the sand as he enthusiastically dived to get the shot.

Flanked by stunning scenery and cheering crowds, the 27-year-old was coached by Adriana Behar, winner of two Olympic silver medals and one of the world's most outstanding beach volleyball players of her generation.

They were joined by three other top Brazilian volleyball players Jackie Silva, Para and Carlao. The three-a-side match gave him the chance to show off his ball skills.

Catch! Prince Harry enjoys a game of rugby with children on Rio's Flamengo Beach
The women players are known for their skimpy outfits, but they were modestly dressed in shorts and vest tops for the game.

The prince, who is in South America at the request of the Government, was taking part in a British-themed sports day - part of a Great campaign event to celebrate the passion Brazil and the UK share for sports, an organiser said.

Great aims to promote Britain in key foreign cities on the back of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 to encourage those overseas to visit, study or do business in the UK.

Earlier the remarkably perky prince took part in a game of touch rugby with a group of local children on the beach. Rugby will be featured for the first time in the 2016 Olympics, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro.

Get off! Prince Harry tries to stop his young opponents getting their hands on the ball by pulling at their shirts
The prince was desperate to win, and as in his "race" against Usain Bolt in Jamaica, where he used a little subterfuge to claim victory, he grabbed the tops of the little boys as they tried to run past him. At one point he picked up two boys and held them under his arms to allow a team mate to score.

The prince appeared to enjoy the action, and was seen knocking over two children - one from each side - in his bid to stop a try.

But he made amends by picking a little girl up.

Harry, who adores the sport, was an enthusiastic participant, laughing and joking with the youngsters and cheekily pulling their shirts to stop them getting to the ball. 

The prince began his day by starting and then taking part in the mile-long fun run in aid of Sports Relief, raising money for local charities. 

Other runners included local children and Olympic and Paralympic athletes. 

Joker: Prince Harry (centre) wore a mask of his brother Prince Wiliam during the Sport Relief Mile in Rio de Janeiro
Despite the 90 degree heat - even at 9 o'clock in the morning - the prince and his Scotland Yard police protection team completed the course in 8 minutes 32 seconds. 

Prince Harry couldn't risk a dig at his brother as the royal raced through the finish line with the paper image of his brother strapped to his face, knowing full well the images would tickle Prince William, who is currently on deployment in The Falklands.

Harry had begun the event - a Sport Relief Mile race - close to Rio de Janeiro's Flamengo beach without the unusual attire after setting hundreds of racers on their way by waving a Brazilian flag. 

Family affair: Hettie Allison (centre), with friends who have also dressed for the occasion. Hettie gave her mask to Prince Harry, who wore it as he crossed the finishing line
In the shadow of Rio's iconic Sugar Loaf mountain the prince - dressed in sunglasses, polo shirt, trainers and track suit bottoms - joined them setting off at a slow jog and was joined by blind athlete Alice de Oliveura Correio, 17. 

But as he saw the finish line in sight he quickly put the mask on having been handed it mid stride by an aide.

It appears the joke mask was a spur-of-the-moment jape - aimed at earning Harry bragging rights against his brother when he returns home next week.

Harry is thought to have been given the mask by another runner, one among hundreds of children and adults taking part in the event in temperatures well into the 90s.

An aide said: 'He thought it would be a bit of fun and give his brother a laugh.' He hadn't planned to wear the mask but had spotted it on another runner and borrowed it.

'It took everyone by surprise but he thought it was a real hoot and would make his brother laugh,' said a source.

All in hand: Prince Harry has spotted the mask of his brother and continues the race holding it
Harry was joined for part of the run by 17-year-old Alice de Oliveura Correio, a leading 200-metre runner and long-jump athlete. She said: "To run with 'William' was fantastic, very cool."

William has got his own back on his brother in the past and usually makes reference to his red hair when on a foreign tour.

Model Lily Cole, who attended the launch of the Great campaign earlier, also took part in the event but was wilting in the hot temperatures.

"It's been amazing running the Sport Relief Mile today but it's so much hotter than in my gym," she said.

Amanda Horton-Mastin from Sport Relief said: 'It’s wonderful that Harry is here in Brazil taking part in the Sport Relief Mile, joining thousands of people who are doing a Mile around the world, as well as the million people who will be doing it in the UK. 

She added: 'It’s great that this morning he’s seeing how we raise the money and this afternoon he will see how the money is spent when he opens a project that Sport Relief is funding in the Alemao favela.'

Jogging along: British woman Hettie Allison runs wearing a Prince William mask - perfect for Prince Harry to wear for the Sport Relief event
Later today Harry is due to tour a notorious, drugs-ridden suburb in the north of the city to learn more about the work of the local government in cleaning up the area which has also received funding from British charity Comic Relief. 

Last night in a speech Prince Harry got in a dig about his brother, saying: 'Everything about Rio makes you want to dance. I'm just so thankful that my brother isn't here because he might actually do it ... and that would not be cool.' 

He praised the relationship between Brazil and Britain and curiously likened it to a marriage, adding: 'now, there's an idea'. 

He said he was going to help coach Brazilians to play rugby. Keeping up his jovial style, he added: 'One plea to all Brazilians, though: please, please - if we show you how to play rugby - don't do what you've done with football, and leave us wishing we hadn't!'

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