South Africa is in line for its most successful medal haul since returning from isolation in 1992, according to the online betting firms, writes GARY LEMKE.
The benchmark are the six medals won in Athens 2004 and London 2012.
According to the bookies, there will be eight medals: two gold, three silvers and three bronze medals, and if Caster Semenya decides to double up and contest the 400m along with the 800m, the medals tally would increase to nine, while triathlete Richard Murray is fourth favourite.
Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya are being tipped to win gold, with Chad le Clos, Cameron van der Burgh and the Rugby Sevens fancied for silver and Le Clos, the men’s lightweight double sculls rowers and Sunette Viljoen earmarked to earn a bronze medal as well.
Below is a handy guide as to what athletes and teams are being rated by the oddsmakers, along with their events and the dates they will be in action.
Usain Bolt is the 5-10 favourite to win the men’s 100m gold for the third successive Games with Justin Gatlin (2-1) his only realistic challenger in the betting. South African record holder Akani Simbine is tipped to finish seventh, and he’s at 66-1 to upset Bolt.
Wayde van Niekerk, the 400m world champion, is the odds-on favourite at 8-10 to become the Olympic one-lap champion. His closest rival in the market is Kirani James at 17-10, followed by LaShawn Merritt at 5-1.
Allyson Felix is the even-money favourite to take the women’s 400m, while Caster Semenya – who has not yet decided, at least publicly whether or not she will contest the one-lap event – the third favourite at 5-2. Shaunae Miller is second favourite at 9-4.
Veteran thrower Sunette Viljoen is being given every chance of winning a medal as she is the joint third favourite at 8-1 in the women’s javelin. It’s an open-looking event on paper with Barbora Spotakova the 2-1 favourite, closely followed by Tatiana Khaladovic.
Zarck Visser is a 50-1 outsider in the men’s long jump.
LJ van Zyl is the 16-1 seventh favourite in the men’s 400m hurdles. Kerron Clement is the 13-8 favourite.
The men’s 200m and Usain Bolt is 4-10 favourite to create history and do the sprint double for the third successive Games. Justin Gatlin is, again, second favourite at 7-2. Wayde van Niekerk is the 33-1 sixth favourite and world championship bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwane is a 100-1 outsider here.
Mo Farah is one of the heaviest favourites for gold at the Olympics. He’s 1-3 in the men’s 5 000m, with Elroy Galant at 100-1.
Louis Meintjes, who was phenomenal in finishing eighth overall in the Tour de France, is a 150-1 outsider behind favourite Alejandro Valverde to win the men’s road race. Daryl Impey is at 200-1.
Ashleigh Moolman, the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, is 50-1 in the betting for the Olympic Road race.
Starts 11 August
Jaco van Zyl is at 80-1 and Brandon Stone 100-1 in the first Olympic golf event since 1904. The 6-1 favourite is The Open champion Henrik Stenson.
Starts 17 August
The world No1 Lydia Ko is the 3-1 favourite with Paul Reto at 200-1 and Ashleigh Simon at 300-1.
South Africa’s men’s coxless pair are priced as sixth favourites (33-1), with New Zealand being considered gold medal certainties in the event.
8 August (final 11 August)
France are the heavy favourites for the men’s lightweight double sculls but the good news is that South Africa (10-1) are being tipped to win the bronze medal, behind France and Norway.
Starts 6 August
South Africa are 11-4 joint second favourites with New Zealand to win the tournament. Fiji, at 15-10, have been priced up to win the gold medal and the oddsmakers don’t see any other country winning a medal, with Australia next best at 12-1.
Starts 3 August
Banana Banyana are considered 100-1 outsiders – only Zimbabwe (250-1) are at longer odds – to win the gold medal. Their opening game is against Sweden and South Africa have been priced up at 11-1 to beat the more fancied side. The favourite scoreline is 2-0.
Starts 4 August
South Africa meet the hosts and gold medal favourites Brazil in their opening match on Wednesday. South Africa are 66-1 outsiders overall and 20-1 to beat Brazil. The hosts are so fancied in the betting for the match that the favourite scoreline, according to the online odds, is 3-0 to Brazil.
The man who kickstarted South Africa’s medal’s challenge in London in 2012, Cameron van der Burgh, is the 7-2 second favourite in the men’s 100m breaststroke, the event in which he won gold four years ago. Britain’s speedster Adam Peaty is a short-priced 4-10 favourite to win gold.
Myles Brown is joint 10th in the betting for the men’s 400m freestyle, a 100-1 outsider for gold behind odds-on favourite Sun Yang (8-10).
Chad le Clos, who has entered the men’s 200m freestyle, is a 25-1 bet to win the gold medal. Sun Yang (1-1) and James Guy (11-8) are expected to fight it out for gold and silver. Le Clos is priced up in joint sixth.
The 2012 Olympic champion, Chad le Clos, is 7-2 third favourite to retain his men’s 200m butterfly title. Laszlo Cesh has been made the 12-10 favourite with American legend Michael Phelps is second favourite at 13-10, followed by Le Clos.
Cameron van der Burgh is priced at 40-1, ninth in the betting, in the men’s 200m breaststroke. The 11-8 favourite is Josh Prenet.
South Africa are 100-1 in the men’s 4x200m freestyle, with the United States the 5-10 favourites to win gold.
Chad le Clos, silver medallist in the 100m butterfly in 2012, is the 2-1 second favourite behind Michael Phelps (11-10) with Laszlo Cech (4-1), in an event the bookies feel will see the same three men as the 200m sharing the medals.
South Africa are 100-1 in the men’s 4x100m medley relay, with the United States the 1-3 favourites for gold.
Richard Murray is being given a medal chance, priced at 8-1 fourth favourite behind the odds-on (8-11) favourite Alistair Brownlee.
Picture of Van Niekerk courtesy of Backpagepix
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