THIS year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, feature 17 days of the greatest athletes in the world, going head to head in 306 events, aiming for gold.
But, amidst that smorgasbord of sport, there are a number of events at the pointy end that punters will be focussed on during the August 5-17 games.
Here are our tips for the best events of the games.
Men’s 100m Sprint Final, Day Nine
If there is one event that epitomises the Olympic Games, it is this one. A race loaded with history and honour, this rates pits the indomitable Jamaican sprinting legend Usain Bolt against bitter rival American Justin Gatlin. While Jamiaca’s Yohan Blake ($8.50) and America’s Trayvon Bromell ($9.50) would like to think they have claims, this race is about two men who have led vastly different lives, colliding on the track. While Gatlin, at $2.61 with sportsbet.com.au has loads of talent, Bolt has won the past two gold medals in the event in both London and Beijing, and only a fool would bet against him impressing again, on the world’s biggest athletics stage.
Our pick: Usain Bolt (Jamaica) – $1.65 with Sportsbet.com.au
Men’s 100m Freestyle Final, Day Five
Aussie Cameron McEvoy is the man to beat in the 100m freestyle and he has his sights set on gold. He’s been almost unbeatable over the past 18 months and is the red hot $1.67 favourite to take out the Olympic title. But a word of warning, the Australians have come agonisingly close to gold at the past two games, with Eamon Sullivan and James Magnussen both being forced to settle for gold in Beijing and London, respectively. Can McEvoy rewrite the history books? If not, US swimmer Nathan Adrian and China’s Zetao Ning will be ready to pounce.
Our pick: Cameron McEvoy (Australia) – $1.67 with Sportsbet.com.au
Men’s Basketball Final, Day 17
Every one is playing for second in this event, despite an “understrength” Team USA squad. Yes, the likes of Lebron James and Steph Curry have decided to skip the Olympics, but it will matter little when Kevin Durant and the USA’s team of stars steps out in Rio. What is more interesting is who will lose to them in the final. Spain and France both feature dynamite line-ups with plenty of NBA experience and have serious claims on the silver medal. Led by veteran Tony Parker and a great young line-up featuring Rudy Gobert and Nicolas Batum, we think the French have the best hope. Australia’s hopes of a medal have been talked up, at $13, but they have failed to impress in warm up competition.
Our pick without Team USA: France – $4 with Sportsbet.com.au
Men’s Hockey Final, Day 14
Australia is the favourite to win gold in the hockey, the Kookaburra’s at $3.60, but their arch rival Netherlands are nipping at their heels at $3.75. Maybe the punters are forgetting that Germany is the reigning Olympic gold medallist and, at $5, represent fantastic value in one of the games’ most under-rated sports.
Our pick: Germany – $5 with Sportsbet.com.au
Men’s 200m Individual Medley Final, Day Seven
You could just about pick any event featuring Michael Phelps and back him in. He owns a ridiculous 22 Olympic Medals and is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best swimmer in the Games’ history. The 200m Individual Medley is a gruelling test of swimmers’ guts and determination and, as an even money favourite, they are the best odds you will have seen for Phelps in a long, long time. While compatriot Ryan Lochte ($3) is certainly no slouch, we don’t see anyone getting in the way of the American Superfish.
Our pick: Michael Phelps – $2 with Sportsbet.com.au
Women’s Gymnastics, Days three-11
Like Phelps, American Simone Biles is on the verge of greatness. They already call her the Michael Jordan of the gymnastics world. She is set to compete in seven events, and is favoured in almost all. But the triple World Champion’s pet event is the balance beam and, at $1.53, we can’t see anyone getting close.
Our pick: Simone Biles (USA) – $1.53 int the balance beam
Men’s Tennis Final, Day 10
With several tennis stars deciding to skip the Olympics, World Number One Novak Djokovic has a mortgage on gold. He’s already ticked off the French Open this year as a title that he had been chasing and, after bronze in Beijing and a loss in the semis at London, it’s time to add more accolades to his trophy hall. He’s the $1.91 favourite, but is sure to face stiff competition from Brit Andy Murray ($3.25).
Our pick: Novak Djokovic (Serbia) – $1.91 with Sportsbet.com.au
Women’s K1 Slalom Final, Day Seven
Never heard of the K1 slalom? This is an absolute must not miss event. It only goes for a minute, but participants get belted from pillar to post in the kayak as they hurtle down the white water. Australia’s Jessica Fox won the silver medal at the tender age of 18 in London and she has not skipped a neat since. She is by no means a shoe in at $3.10, but her best outdoes the likes of Spain’s Maialen Chourrant ($4) and Sweden’s Jana Dukatova ($7.50).
Our pick: Jessica Fox (Australia) – $3.10 with Sportsbet.com.au
Women’s Basketball Final, Day 16
Like their male compatriots, the Team USA women are the $1.08 favourites to win gold. But this event is by no means as clear cut as the men’s. Australia, led by the likes of Liz Cambage and Penny Taylor are $8 second favourites and represent massive value. In all likelihood, the USA will win gold, but the Aussies are definitely worth a flutter, especially after pushing the favourites all the way in a warm up match at Maddison Square Garden.
Our pick: Australia – $8 with Sportsbet.com.au
Men’s 50km walk, Day Eight
Not quite the action-packed event you’d think we’d serve up, but you’d be hard pressed to find one that is more gruelling. 50km of keeping your form, not being picked up for running and trying to hold off the best athletes of your sport. This controversial event has seen the London gold medallist disqualified for drug cheating and the medal awarded to Australian Jared Tallent. He is a $5 chance, equal with France’s Johann Diniz, but Slovak race walker Matej Toth is the one to beat at $5.
Our pick: Jared Tallent – $5 with Sportsbet.com.au
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