The Olympic Games are nearing the home stretch, but that doesn’t mean that we are running out of good betting opportunities. In fact, some of the more interesting events from a betting perspective are still to come. Here are five events that stand out to me:
4x400m relay (men Friday, August 10 and women Saturday, Aug. 11)
The Americans are ridiculously dominant in this event on both the men’s and women’s side. In fact, to call them merely dominant is an insult to what they have done. The women have won five of 10 Olympic gold medals in the event, and they have won the last three World Championships. They have a ridiculously deep team in London, and together have the world’s best time of the year. The team is experienced and has run together for many years so they will have the comfort of familiarity. At last year’s World Championships the Americans had a big edge, and there is no reason to think that has changed. They are a solid, safe bet.
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Even more safe is the men. The last time the Americans failed to win gold at a World Championships was 1991. Outside of disqualifications or boycotts they have won every Olympic gold since 1952. The rest of the world is stronger in the 400m than they have been in a while, but the Americans have had such a massive edge in the last two Olympics that they could be much less dominant than they have been and they would still win convincingly. They could be tested, but they won’t lose.
Women’s marathon swim (Thursday, Aug. 9)
You don’t have to watch the Olympics for long to realize the boost that British athletes are getting in so many events because of the rabid crowd. That means that British athletes who are strong contenders anyway are particularly attractive here. One swimmer who fits that bill is Keri-Anne Payne. The marathon swim is a brutal event — 10km in the cold water of a lake in Hyde Park. Payne, who won silver in the event in Beijing, is seen as the best in the world at the event now. She is the World Champion from 2009 and 2011, has been strong this year, and is the clear class of the field. The price won’t be great, but it doesn’t need to be to present some value.
Women’s soccer bronze medal game (Thursday, Aug. 9)
As a Canadian I know one thing about this women’s soccer tournament — Canada got screwed. They lost their semifinal to the Americans after a mystery call from the referee. The goalkeeper was called for holding the ball more than six seconds. She did, but the rule is never enforced and really never called without a warning first. The Canadian team was extremely frustrated after the game because they came so close to beating a much better team. Now they have to refocus to play France — a team that was no match for the Americans in round-robin play. Unlike the previous three cases the pick here isn’t clear — it depends on your viewpoint. It’s possible that the Canadians will be highly motivated to get a medal after their setback, or they could pout and play a substandard effort here. Depending on your view of the psychology of the situation there could be an opportunity here.
Men’s marathon (Sunday, Aug. 12)
The last athletic event of the games will almost certainly feature an Olympic record. It will also very likely feature a winner from either Kenya or Ethiopia. Runners from those two countries have run the 10 fastest marathons ever — five from each nation. Seven of those 10 times, including the two fastest, have occurred since April of 2011. The guys who hold five of those 10 times will be in this race. The course is very favorable for these runners, and they will be ready to go very fast. They will also push each other very hard. If the weather is right a world record is possible as well. This race could be a good betting opportunity — just pick one or more of the six runners from the two countries. It should also offer some interesting prop betting opportunities surrounding the final times and the makeup of the podium.
Men’s basketball (Sunday, Aug. 12)
What have we learned so far during this Olympic basketball tournament? The Americans are clearly the best team, they are likely going to win gold, but they aren’t as consistently dominant as they are capable of being. That means that the spreads can get bigger than they probably should be. That will especially be an issue as the tournament progresses and the public bets even more enthusiastically on them than they have already been doing. Assuming they make the gold medal game they are going to play a pretty talented team that almost certainly won’t get the respect they deserve — especially if that opponent is Spain. There is nothing wrong with betting against the team you will be cheering for if it will be profitable.