BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — With a starter in his hand, Prince Harry said ”take your mark” and pressed a button, and a group of local swimmers were off.
The British prince visited a private tennis club Tuesday in Belo Horizonte where Britain’s Olympic team will be based ahead of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. Later, he will attend England’s final World Cup group match against Costa Rica at Mineirao Stadium.
It will be the last chance to see England play in Brazil after the team was eliminated from the group stage after just two matches, the country’s worst World Cup performance since 1958.
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A few hundred schoolchildren were bused in for the event at the tennis club and cheered the prince’s arrival, which was watched by residents looking out their window from adjacent apartment buildings. After the exhibition race, Harry placed medals over the heads of the swimmers, some of them children.
The Minas Tenis Clube has an Olympic-size pool, tennis courts and an arena where judo and other sports can be practiced.
In October, the British Olympic Association announced that it had reached a deal for its teams to prepare for the 2016 Olympics in Belo Horizonte. At the time, the BOA said Britain will ”train, prepare and acclimatize” in the city, which is ”ideally located in the center of Brazil and only a one-hour flight from Rio.”
Beside the pool, Harry chatted with Brazil’s most successful swimmer, Cesar Cielo, who has won three Olympic medals, including a gold at the 2008 Beijing Games. The prince later met with some of the children watching from the stands.