The Olympic Games is the greatest sporting event on the planet. Displaying Human beings at their best, their most athletic and under the lights, their most vulnerable. It doesn’t get any better than this… or can it?
For those sports fans who like a little flutter or bet to make watching their favourite sports even more interesting; then the Olympic Games provides an infrequent opportunity for the swim fan to do just that – have a little fun and make a little pocket money along the way.
As swimming is less regularly televised than many other sports, bookmakers often only offer betting markets for the major swimming events – the main one of these being the Olympic Games week. With infrequent markets offered, it is understandable that this results in limited knowledge from the Bookies, and it us up to the swimming spectator to make the most of it.
It is clear that many of the bookmakers have not researched the sport, but obviously with the enormity of the Games, feel obliged to offer some betting markets. When there are winning odds available for athletes who have not even travelled to Rio De Janeiro, and odds for favourites are so short that the element of human performance on the day is not considered, it becomes clear that the Bookmakers have simply googled the World rankings and worked off that.
What does that mean? Well, it’s an opportunity to exploit this lack of understanding to our advantage. Here are a few outside bets which seem to have odds we believe are particularly favourable.
- Jessica Ashwood to medal in the Women’s 400 freestyle. Odds: 10/1.
We just simply love these odds, and noticed their value straight away. The Gold and Silver are arguably out of Ashwood’s capability, but she is very much in the hunt for the Bronze medal. This will be between a number of ladies, but the Australian Champion has been very consistent this year after winning Bronze at the Worlds in this event in 2015. At 10/1 it’s difficult to ignore that value.
- Anton Chupkov to medal in Men’s 200 breaststroke. Odds: 25/1.
The reigning Olympic Champion, Daniel Gyurta, has been struggling for form over recent years, and with a 60.26 100 Breaststroke today (0.5 slower than heats in London 4 years ago), he doesn’t look like he will be able to replicate past performances in Rio either. Marco Koch who is the reigning World Champion may also be struggling with a shoulder injury and looked vulnerable when he was beaten by Chupkov in Canet earlier in the year. This Russian World Junior record holder (2.08.53) is young and fearless, and with an open field and no pressure on him, 25/1 looks a very tempting punt.
- Germany to medal in the Men’s 4×200 freestyle relay. Odds: 33/1.
They are definitely outside smokers for a medal here, but with the World Record holder Paul Biedermann coming back to form this year and a great Olympic qualifying performances from the German freestylers, resulting in the 3rd fastest ranked combined individual time quartet this year. This is ahead of the reigning World Champions Great Britain and the always competitive French team. It will be a fight for Bronze, but France have the weakest 4th member and there has always been something vulnerable about the British this year with personnel changes. 33/1 is very good value for a team that have a chance.
- Meriera Belmonte to win the Women’s 200 butterfly. Odds: 6/1.
Two-time Olympic medalist had struggled with injury in 2015 but has shown some form this year. With an open and inexperienced field in the 200 fly this time round in Rio, her experience coupled with a very strong back part of the race could see her through. Belmonte looked good in the 400IM heats today, lying 2nd seed for the final later. Madeline Groves, this year’s World No.1, was not on the same form missing the 100m butterfly semi-finals today and swimming a second off her lifetime best set at Olympic trials. An opportunity for Belmonte to seize.
- Luca Dotto to medal in the Men’s 100 freestyle. Odds: 7/1.
The Italian Armani model will be confident after winning the LEN European Championships in London two months ago and lies 3rd in the world in 2016 (47.96). This blue-ribboned event for the big boys is always close for the minor medals and this year will be no different with 0.13 seconds splitting 3rd to 10th in the rankings. 7/1 however is good value for Dotto particularly as others of similar speed have been given much shorter odds.
- South Africa to medal in the Men’s 4×100 medley relay. Odds: 20/1.
The RSA men have found a backstroker this year in Chris Reid (53.12) to lead their quartet off which will make a big difference. This is then followed by two of the best in the world on breaststroke (Cameron van der Burgh) and butterfly (Chad Le Clos). The worry is that they don’t have a freestyler to bring them home on the anchor. If they get their freestyler firing and in a position to chase USA or Australia, then they have a great chance for bronze. GBR, China and France will have something to say about that Bronze medal but 20/1 is still favourable odds. A small bet is sensible.
Some more Day 1 observations…
It was very quiet in the swimming pool in the opening heats session, with a number of empty seats visible. The crowd was timid the majority of the time, except when a number of Brazilians swam, Adam Peaty broke the World Record in the 100 Breaststroke, and Katinka Hosszu got very close in the 400IM. The loudest cheer was heard when Brazilian Daynara De Paula won an unseeded 100 butterfly heat and qualified for the semi-finals.
Noticeably it was the improvement in Peaty’s start that made the difference today and allowed him to turn 0.4 seconds ahead of his own WR line at the half way point which he held for the remainder of the race. There wasn’t much of a reaction from the Derby man, just a nod and a wave of acknowledgment to the stunned crowd, and he was away for his swim down.
Kosuke Hagino looked incredibly smooth and relaxed in the 400 IM heats on Day 1. The Japanese star shut down after the 300 metre mark and almost started swimming catch-up drill on the freestyle leg. In contrast, his Japanese teammate Daiya Seto went out very fast on the opening 200 metres and seemed to fade in the final stages of his heat. This was made particularly apparent as he was passed by the fast finishing American Chase Khalisz. It was an excellent PB for Khalisz, but he obviously exerted himself to the end of the race, so expect Hagino to still be the one to beat in the final.
Ye Shiwen swam 4.45.86 in the 400 Individual Medley today; missing the final by nine seconds and her own World Record and best time by 17 seconds (this may go later in the final as Hosszu missed in the heats by the smallest of margins). With a sport that seems to be struggling with performance enhancing drugs as much as the next, there has to be question marks raised about this one.
Conor Dwyer dropped three seconds from his US team trials swim in the 400 free today to be fastest seed in to the final. The American was noticeably pumped after the race and got out the pool very fast with just a single point of acknowledgement to his team. It was reminiscent to that of many American track sprinters who famously hold their breath with a poker face, as to not give away to their opponents how they are feeling. Both Yang and Horton looked great today too and just did what they needed to qualify.
Turkish swimmer Viktoria Gunes swam the 400 Individual Medley today. She didn’t progress any further with an ordinary overall time, however her breaststroke leg is what stood out. Gunes split 1.15.38 on the breaststroke leg, which was considerably quicker than the rest of the athletes in the event. Watch out for her in the 200m breaststroke.
Relay swims are a great opportunity to gauge the form of swimmers and the Women’s 4×100 free relay was no different. Cate Campbell posted the fastest split in a sparkling 51.80. For a heat swim that Australia didn’t need to over exert themselves to qualify, shows that Campbell has held her fine World Record form from June.
Sarah Sjoestroem after qualifying as fastest in the 100 fly, posted a fast 52.57 for Sweden in her relay. But the most impressive relay split was Katie Ledecky’s 52.64 anchor. Not known for her 100 metre speed, this is an ominous sign for the field in the 200 freestyle later in the week as she is obviously much sharper than she was at US Olympic Trials.
It was evident today that the USA team have had a great holding camp, are in better shape than last month, and have started the meet very well. A menacing prospect for the rest…