Friday, 27 July 2012

Let the Games begin...

“Let the Games begin”, says the latest in a very long line of e-mails from the helpful girls and boys at London 2012. “One day to go”, I’m told, just in case I’d missed a moment of the countdown. With the BBC’s gargantuan Olympics coverage cranking up to full swing, it’s hardly possible. I did snigger a little at Fiona Bruce, with an old fashioned mike pinned to her lapel, sounding like she was reading the news from inside a toilet bowl. I don’t think the studio had been  quite sorted out by Tuesday night.

(By the way, does anyone else find those BBC adverts featuring computer enhanced superhuman athletes with bursting, rippling muscles and etiolated bodies jumping and diving about the place just a bit too suggestive of the effects of drug enhanced training regimes? Surely a bit incongruous in a climate of public revulsion at such abuse in sport. No? Just me then.)

On the eve of the opening ceremony, I think I am ready. I’ve checked the rules, regs and travel for Saturday: get to the Park two hours early… get to the Aquatics Centre 90 minutes early… airport style security… one small soft bag only… small lensed camera only…no ambush marketing (the orange mini-dress goes back in the wardrobe)…

So I’d better get some bets down.

We will be perched up in the Gods for the first swimming finals of the Games. And it would be rude not to take an interest. I’ve taken 5-1 about Hannah Miley in the 400m Individual Medley, who has a fair shout of landing Britain’s first Gold in the pool, propelled down the lanes on a wave of home fervour. It could be Britain’s first Gold anywhere if Cavendish fails to land the time trial on Saturday afternoon. Miley, coached by her father, has serious claims, but is ranked third in the world, and will have to shave a few fractions off her PB to win.

Before that, we will witness Round 1 of a mouthwatering series of Ryan Lochte v Michael Phelps head to heads. This one is the 400m Individual Medley. Lochte beat Phelps in this event  at the US trials earlier this month. But I’m happy to take a chance of Phelps reversing the form at 6-4, though that is hardly value by any of my normal rules (can’t see the exacta being a big payout either) The Lochte-Phelps duels are likely to be the story of the pool. Lochte is hot property right now and nobody will be surprised if he bounds well clear of the Phelps’ shadow.

Away from the pool, I’ve done a terrible thing and opposed Cavendish in the Road Race. I just looked a the 7-1 available for Peter Sagan and thought that was just a bit too much like value. The Slovakian has had a stonking Tour de France, landing the overall points classification, with Cavendish back in third. Cav is a legend, of course, and will have been saving plenty for the inevitable sprint up The Mall. But 7-1 just looks a bit big to me.

I absolutely loved the final stage of the Tour de France last Sunday. Wiggins showed all his class and temperament in the way he refused to coast round the streets of Paris, enjoying his victory. Instead, he dug deep for the team that had pushed him to the brink of victory and led out for Cav’s sprint finish in an absolutely beautifully orchestrated piece of team tactics. Proper respect due and, I’ll confess, lump in the throat time. So I feel bad about deserting Cavendish on Saturday. To assuage this reckless act, I’ve patriotically doubled up Wiggins in the Time Trial with Hoy in the Keirin later next week. It could have been worse, but Paddy Power wouldn’t let me put these two together with the British Team Pursuit Gold (also odds-on) for what would have been a treble of stupefying mugness. I shall content myself with the double.

Oh, and almost forgot my nap of the, er, meeting, Germany to wear the Equestrian Team Eventing gold medals at 9-4.

With decent cards at Ascot and York over the next couple of days, I aim to use my time wisely to unearth even more staggeringly good bets. In the meantime, bring it on, as they say. 

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