The announcement of the athletes who will be representing the UK (“Team GB”) in track and field events at London 2012 was made on Tuesday 3 July. With the team now announced it is a good chance for Global Betting and Gaming Consultants (GBGC) to take an initial look at the betting on their performance at the games.
Charles van Commenee, UK Athletics’ Head Coach, has set a target of eight medals from track and field events at the London games (or to be more specific 5 – 8 medals with at least one gold). If you believe all the talk about how these “home” games are “a once in a lifetime opportunity” for the UK athletes then this looks like a fairly modest total, especially given the amount of funding that has gone into the UK athletics programme. But 5 – 8 medals might be a truthful assessment of the team’s ability.
Based purely on the historical statistics, then 2.50 about “under 7 medals” appears an excellent bet. It was the 1988 Seoul games when the UK team last managed to win 7 or more medals in track and field when 8 medals (0 gold; 6 silver; 2 bronze) were won.
The mean average number of medals won in track and field by the UK team in the six Olympic games since 1988 is 5.66. At the last games in Beijing in 2008 the team won 4 medals.
After these first six athletes, next on the list is Holly Bleasdale at 2.50 to win a medal in the pole vault. This is her first Olympics and, while she recorded an excellent performance indoors at the start of 2012, she also failed to register any height at all in the World Championships in 2011.
Steve Cram has listed 11 medal hopes for Team GB including Idowu and Bleasdale as well as Shara Proctor (long jump; 2.50), Yamile Aldama (triple jump, no price), and Robbie Grabarz (high jump, no price).
Reviewing the performance of the host nation in track and field over the last six games there is little strong evidence that there is a significant improvement to be gained from home advantage.
Greece won 5 medals in Athens, an improvement of 1 from the 4 won in Sydney in 2000.
The USA has a mean average of 24 track and field medals per games since 1988. In Atlanta in 1996 it matched that average by winning 23 medals (7 fewer than the 30 won in Barcelona in 1992).
In fact Spain is the only really significant improver at a home games. Spain has won 9 athletics medals since 1988 and four of those came in Barcelona in 1992.
So, the bet would still seem to be Under 7 medals at 2.50 for Team GB, allowing for an improvement on the 4 medals won in 2008.