To a degree the Olympics are about cheering for your country, of course. However, if individuals weren’t important then NBC wouldn’t spend so much time on those vignettes that introduce us to the principals. There are many big names competing in Rio, and betting on or against the established stars has value, particularly if you are willing to think analytically not emotionally. Let’s look at a few money making opportunities as the games begin.
The greatest sprinter of all time is 2/3 to win the 100 meters, 2/5 to win the 200 meters, and his country, Jamaica, is 4/7 to capture the 4×100 meter relay. None of these odds are unrealistic, but there are major questions as to how healthy (or good) Bolt is right now.
Bolt has won gold in each of the three aforementioned events during the past two Olympics; but, is now weeks away from turning 30 years old, and just recently returned from a serious hamstring injury that forced him to withdraw from Jamaica’s Olympic Trials.
Longtime rival Justin Gatlin has the fastest 100m time this year, and LaShawn Merritt has the best 200m time in 2016. Bolt may be the most dominant track and field athlete ever, but this is not the 22 or 26-year old version. This is a sprinter at the end of his legendary career, and betting against guys who are past their prime, and still the darling of amateur bettors, is smart wagering.
As good as Bolt has been, Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. The swimmer has won 22 medals, 18 of which are of the gold variety. The 31-year old is competing in his fifth Olympic games, and will battle for gold in at least three individual events, plus relays.
Phelps is about even money to win the 100 meter butterfly, a shade under 3/2 to capture the 200 meter butterfly, and just over even money to earn gold in the 200 meter individual medley. In 2008 Phelps won eight gold medals, and in 2012 he won four, while his last world record was set in 2009.
He was very good but not great the U.S. Olympic Trials. Like Bolt, Phelps is a legend worth betting against. People will bet him for his legacy, not his current condition.
It is possible that years from now nobody will remember what Bolt and Phelps accomplish during the Rio games. But, it is extremely likely that Rio will be Simone Biles’ coming out party.
Unable to participate in the London games four years ago because she was only 15 years old, Biles has dominated gymnastics ever since. She has earned 10 World Championship gold medals, two silver, and two bronze over the last three years. The joke at the U.S. Olympic Trials was who would finish second, and how close they would be to Biles. The three favorites to win the overall competition are all American, and even Laurie Hernandez and Gabby Douglas would tell you they’d be happy with silver.
Biles is 4/11 to win the overall gold, 5/9 on the balance beam, 2/3 to win floor exercise gold, and 5/4 to triumph on vault. Bet her to win them all! Not only is she in her prime, but she may be the greatest gymnast of all-time.
If she returns in four years she’ll get the Phelps and Bolt treatment, despite being old for a gymnast at that point. Bet the best in their prime and cash a lot of tickets.
(Photo Credit: drcliffordchoi (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/])