Tokyo 2020 Tips: Betting action at the Olympics

Trayvon Bromell at Tokyo 2020
Trayvon Bromell can return from the wilderness to claim a Gold for Team USA in the 100m

Expect Team GB to excel whenever they are sitting down, writes Jack Houghton, but look to other nations when attention turns to athletics in the second week...

"Great Britain will continue the tradition of excelling at sports that involve sitting down..."

When does Tokyo 2020 start?

Thankfully, unless I've spectacularly missed my deadline, 2021. You all know why. It's still called Tokyo 2020, because they'd printed all the posters and couldn't afford any more ink.

There is some preliminary football and softball action today - Wednesday 21st July - but the Opening Ceremony starts at around midday UK time on Friday 23rd July, at the rebuilt Olympic Stadium. The first medals will be awarded the day after.

Check out Dan Fitch's recommendations for the football.

Who are the favourites to follow?

USA (1.152/13) will win more Gold medals than any other nation. Beijing 2008 aside, they have done so at every Olympics since 1992, where the Unified Team of ex-Soviet Bloc nations competed under the same banner and claimed the top spot. The new sports added at this Olympics - like skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing and baseball - only increase the range of sports where they can medal.

Expect Japan to beat their sixth place from Rio 2016, as the traditional host-nation investment they have made in sport pays dividends. At Rio, Great Britain claimed second spot for Golds, beating China. Japan would love to do the same here.

One of Team USA's gold medallists should be Trayvon Bromell (2.506/4) in the men's 100m. An up-and-coming star who claimed Bronze at the 2015 World Championships, he has been in the wilderness since 2017 after multiple surgeries to his Achilles tendon. His world-leading 9.77 earlier this year makes him the worthy favourite.

She won't head the market, but is nailed-on to get the most media coverage at this Olympics: 13-year-old Sky Brown competes in the skateboarding on Wednesday 4 August as Britain's youngest ever summer Olympian. She is likely to be beaten by Japanese rivals, but could medal.

Where might there be the biggest upsets?

Winning eight of the available 15 medals at Beijing 2008, it would have been hard to predict that China's badminton dominance might ever be challenged. Japan have targeted the sport as a potential area of success, though, and can be expected to cause an upset or two. Watanabe Yuta and Higashino Arisa will be hopeful of overturning favourites Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong in the mixed doubles, and Kento Momota can win the men's singles.

The final athletics event of Tokyo 2020 is the men's marathon. Favourite will likely be world record holder and Rio 2016 Gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge. Also the first athlete ever to break two hours for the event - in the non-ratified Ineos 1:59 challenge - it will be hard to oppose an athlete who has been almost unbeatable over the marathon distance.

Cracks are beginning to show, though. Kipchoge flopped at the London Marathon in 2020, trailing in eighth after complaining of a blocked ear, and the heat and humidity in Sapporo will be very different to the perfect climate provided by Vienna for his sub-two hour challenge.

Tokyo 2020 Surfing.jpg

Are there any Brits who could win Gold?

Great Britain will continue the tradition of excelling at sports that involve sitting down. Cycling and rowing provided nine of Britain's 27 Golds in 2016, and the sports will be relied upon again to anchor British success.

While the lottery of the road race on Saturday 24 July is unlikely to provide the hope of a medal, Tom Piddock could upset the likes of Matthieu van der Poel in the mountain biking. And once the action turns to the velodrome in the last week, expect the Golds to start rolling in.

Married couple Laura and Jason Kenny might well bring home four, the highlight of which could be Jason Kenny in the men's keirin, which organisers have put on the last day to reflect local interest: apparently, the cycling event draws huge crowds and enormous betting revenue in Japan.

Vicky Thornley gets rowing underway on Friday. A Silver medallist at Rio 2016, she is one on 45 British rowers who will be looking to show that Jurgen Grobler's departure as head coach will not impact the squad's propensity to win medals.

In the swimming, expect Rio 2016 Gold medallist Adam Peatey to start a short-priced favourite for the men's 100m breaststroke. He has dominated the event in recent years and the world record holder will expect to win here.

Where will Great Britain do badly?

Despite the supposed success of the athletics squad at London 2012, it's worth remembering that two of the four Gold medals that meant the team met their target were provided by an athlete training outside the British Athletics umbrella. Team GB have an appalling record in track and field for the amount of money that is poured into the sport, and punters can profit from opposing over-hyped British athletes.

Dina Asher-Smith (5.004/1) will likely be prominent in the 100m, but she is more of an outside shot than her odds suggest. And despite her family heritage, expect Eilish McColgan to flop in the 5,000m and 10,000m. Her mum might have excelled in Tokyo in 1991, but Eilish faces an East African contingent that will likely mean her recent breaking of Paula Radcliffe's British record will count for little.

Laura Muir may be the exception to British disappointment in the 1,500m. She exudes a professionalism and tenacity that is rarely the hallmark of British athletes and can overturn the favourite for the event, Kenya's Faith Kipyegon.

*Odds correct at the time of writing

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