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Olympics athletics betting

July 26th, 2012

The men’s 100m and 200m sprints are always the most eagerly anticipated athletics events at the Olympic Games, but punters are showing plenty of interest in a wider range of track and field markets.

Athletics will take over the Olympic Stadium for the second week of the games, with events beginning on Friday August 3rd. The women’s 100m sprint final takes place the following day, with the elite men’s sprinters competing for gold on Sunday August 5th.

One of the most intriguing races should see LaShawn Merritt attempt to successfully defend his 400m title on Monday 6th. The American has been well supported in the betting, but the bookmakers have eased his price since he failed to finish his final warm-up race at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco on July 20th.

Merritt, who insists he was suffering from cramp and not a hamstring injury, had been as short as 4/6 but can now be backed at 5/4 with Betfred. World champion Kirani James is the second favourite at 11/4 with Betfred, but he was beaten into second place in Monaco by Belgium’s Jon Borlee. A 50/1 shot for Olympic gold before that meeting, Borlee is now available at 16/1 with Bet365 and as short as 11/1 with Paddy Power. He could be a value bet if Merritt’s fitness fails him.

The men’s 400m hurdles final takes place on the same day and, assuming he qualifies, will see Dai Greene in strong medal contention for Great Britain. The Welsh athlete won Commonwealth Games gold in 2010 and the World Championship in Daegu last year. He ran a personal best time of 47.84 seconds earlier this month in Paris, where he finished second to the favourite in this event, Javier Culson.

Culson’s best time is 47.72, but Greene beat the Puerto Rican into second place in Daegu and is a best price of 10/3 with Stan James to get the better of him again in London, although his price is drifting. Culson was available at 5/2 in June, but is now a top price of 5/4 with Sky Bet, while BetVictor offer just 4/5.

Great Britain’s Greg Rutherford is proving to be a popular selection in the Long Jump and his price varies significantly between bookmakers. The 25-year-old from Milton Keynes was a 10/1 shot back in January, but is now a best price of 5/1 with Paddy Power and only 5/2 with Stan James.

Irving Saldano, who won the gold medal in Beijing, is a stand-out 10/1 with Stan James to repeat his success, but it is 24-year-old Australian Mitchell Watt who is the market leader in an open competition. Watt, who recorded four of the five longest jumps in the world last year, is available at 10/3 for gold with Betfred, but just 2/1 with Stan James.

Allyson Felix is the heavily-backed favourite in the women’s 200m at 1/2 across the board, but the women’s 100m is seen by the layers as a much more open race. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will be attempting to record back-to-back gold medals for Jamaica after winning in Beijing in a time of 10.78 seconds, just 0.04 short of Merlene Ottey’s world record and is available at 6/4 with Paddy Power and BetVictor.

Carmelita Jeter of the United States is next in the betting at a top price of 5/2 with Bet365. The 32-year-old won the American trials in June in a time of 10.92 - a tenth of a second slower than the time which saw Veronica Campbell-Brown qualify from the Jamaican trials. Campbell-Brown is 11/2 with Coral to win another sprinting gold for Jamaica.

Jessica Ennis is one of the most widely-recognised British athletes to be competing in the Games, so it’s no surprise that she has been well backed to win gold in the Heptathlon. Ennis, ranked number one in the world for the past three years, beat her biggest rival Tatyana Chernova by 132 points when she broke Denis Lewis’s British record at the Hypo-meeting in Austria in May with a score of 6,906.

Prior to that point, you could get odds of 13/8 about the 26-year-old from Sheffield winning gold, but the best price you can now get is the 5/6 quoted by Stan James. Chernova is 9/4 with Bet365, but the 24-year-old Russian is the reigning world champion and is a genuine threat to Ennis. Take the patriotic punt out of the equation and the two women would surely be priced much closer together.

Goldie Sayers is a potential medal contender as she bids to add to Great Britain’s record of success in the javelin. Tessa Sanderson won Olympic gold and Steve Backley and Fatima Whitbread both won silver medals, while Sayers herself finished fourth in Beijing four years ago.

Sayers expects an elbow injury suffered at the London Grand Prix in early July to have fully healed, but that scare is perhaps the reason why Paddy Power are offering 14/1 about the UK record holder, who is as short as 8/1 elsewhere.

Another British athlete to have suffered an injury scare prior to the Games is Phillips Idowu, who won silver in the triple jump in Beijing. Idowu missed the training camp in Portugal to undergo treatment on a knee problem and having been as short as 2/1 a few weeks ago, he can now be backed at 9/1 with William Hill to win gold (just 5/1 with BetVictor). Reigning world champion Christian Taylor is the favourite at a best price of 7/5 with Ladbrokes, but that price could go shorter if one of his leading rivals is ruled out.

British medal hopes in the Pole Vault rest with Holly Bleasdale, who won bronze at the Indoor World Championships in Istanbul in March. In January, the 20-year-old from Blackburn set a new British indoor record by clearing 4.87m - third on the world all-time list behind Yelena Isinbayeva and Jenn Suhr.

Bleasdale is a best price of 14/1 with Paddy Power and Ladbrokes to win gold or she can be backed at 5/2 with Betfred to win a medal. Isinbayeva, twice the Olympic champion, is the 15/8 favourite with Betfred.

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