Bank on Britain's best squad for a
generation to outmedal Italians
Bookmakers have traditionally avoided the vast majority of the 302
events that make up the Olympic Games. However, with a little over a week to go
before Beijing 2008 begins, a number of layers have decided to price up
virtually all of the 28 sports in which medals are awarded.
hopes to offer odds on every single event over the course of the Games and,
like Bet365, Blue Square, Boylesports, Coral and Sky Bet, already has a
comprehensive list of markets available. At this stage, though, they all have
been outdone by the Irish firm Paddy Power, who, for example, has priced up
every weight category in the women's judo. An estimated £20m is expected
to be gambled industry-wide, with Paddy Power's spokesman Darren Haines
predicting: "The vast majority of money will be gambled on the men's track and
field events, the Olympic football tournament and the men's singles tennis
event. Swimming, surprisingly, is also popular as is any British medal hope."
China are favourites to top the medal
table, but the evens that was available around the turn of the year has
disappeared and the best you will see now about the hosts winning the most gold
medals is 8-15 (Paddy Power). The United States are 19-10 (Sportingbet) and it
is 50-1 bar.
The best bet when it comes to medal hauls is backing Great
Britain to win more medals of any colour than Italy - available at 10-11 with
Ladbrokes. Italy, who are sending 347 athletes to China, have finished above
Great Britain in the medal table at every Games since they did so in 1980 but,
crucially, in purely numerical terms Team GB have managed to win more of any
colour than Italy in four of those last seven Olympics.
Britain's squad of 313 is arguably the best they have sent to the Games in the
modern era. Sporting Index quotes Team GB's gold medal haul at 11.2-11.7, which
gives us an indication of how many they will achieve, and Italy do not appear
to have as many realistic gold-medal hopes as Great Britain.
of course, have a number of "good things" for patriotic punters to bet on, but
most are at cramped odds. Ben Ainslie is 1-7 (Paddy Power) to win gold in the
Finn class of sailing while Great Britain are 1-3 (Ladbrokes) to win the team
pursuit in the men's cycling. More medals at the velodrome should follow, as
Britain's track cyclists won nine golds and two silvers at the world
championships in March.
Tim Brabants, though, is not the market leader
in the 100m kayak. Paddy Power offers 11-4, with the Canadian Adam van
Koeverden the 6-4 favourite. Britain's best boxing hope for gold, Frankie
Gavin, is trading at 5-2 (Ladbrokes and Paddy Power) behind the Russian Alexey
Tishchenko. But they are both odds-on to win a medal of any colour, while
Phillips Idowu (8-5, Sportingbet, triple jump) and Kelly Sotherton (7-1,
Ladbrokes, heptathlon) are two of four athletes to receive single-figure odds
quotes to win a track and field gold.
The 100m is the marquee event of
the Games and it looks to be a three-horse race with Usain Bolt the favourite
at 8-5 (Sportingbet) ahead of Tyson Gay (9-4, Ladbrokes) and Asafa Powell (3-1,
Bet Direct). Gay won the 2007 world title but had hamstring trouble in the US
trials (pulling up in the 200m), nor has Powell's preparation been ideal (he
has been hampered by a shoulder injury this year), so the world record holder
Bolt gets the nod.
The football tournament is very popular among
punters, with many familiar names playing for the major nations. Argentina are
the 9-4 (Blue Square) favourites to win gold (as they did in 2004) and include
Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano and Juan Riquelme in their squad. The inclusion
of the lesser-known Anderlecht defender Nicolás Pareja as one of their
over-age players raised a few eyebrows, though, and if Sergio Batista's team
are weak at the back it could be worth siding with Brazil.
five-time World Cup winners, have never lifted the Olympic title and Dunga is
desperate to put that right. Ronaldinho inclusion could turn out to be a
masterstroke and, at 11-4 (Bet Direct and Stan James), they are worth a