When it comes to track, the Olympic odds are pointing at Usain Bolt. He and his Jamaican teammates are heavily favored to win the 4x100m relay in Rio de Janeiro.
Every four years, Pierre de Coubertin rolls over in his grave. All he wanted was a nice, friendly athletic competition to give France something to feel good about after losing the Franco-Prussian War. Now the Summer Olympics are – well, they are what they are. Let's jump right into our first betting pick for Rio 2016 before I go on a rant. Usain Bolt will be involved. Everyone loves Bolt.
Bettors included. As we go to press, Bolt and the rest of Team Jamaica are big favorites on the betting odds board to take down the 4x100 meters relay, which gets underway August 18 at Olympic Stadium. William Hill have Jamaica at 1-2, while Bet365 have the Bolt Brigade at 4-7. Deal, or no deal?
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Basic handicapping principles would tell us “No deal.” The Olympics, as currently constructed, are sports for people who don't like sports. Seriously. Here's how NBC Olympics chief marketing officer John Miller described it to reporters last month:
“The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the Games than men, and for the women, they're less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It's sort of like the ultimate reality show and mini-series wrapped into one.”
In a soft, uninformed market like this, we can expect the favorites to be overvalued in general, and doubly so when someone as TV-famous as Bolt is involved. There is one problem, though: Bolt is the best sprinter in the world. He led Jamaica to gold at the 2008 Games in Beijing and the 2012 Games in London, setting world records both times. And Bolt doesn't even turn 30 until later this month. He's still out there crushing it.
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Of course, there are four other guys (including the alternate) on Team Jamaica, and each one has to do his job flawlessly for the team to win. Asafa Powell, Nickel Ashmeade and Yohan Blake have all won gold with Bolt before; newcomer Jevaughn Minzie has not. Continuity is good if we're going to risk eating chalk in this situation.
Which we are. Team USA (Marvin Bracy, Trayvon Bromell, Christian Coleman, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, Mike Rodgers) might have some value at 17-10 over at Bet365; they're the only credible threat to Jamaica. However, unless someone drops the baton – always a concern in relay races – Bolt and his teammates have been more than dominant over the last eight years to make the risk worth the reward.
Free Olympics Pick: Jamaica (4-7)
Best Line Offered: at Bet365
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