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Place your bets, please

other Updated: Jun 01, 2012 23:28 IST

Reuters
Highlight Story

Would you bet on Queen Elizabeth lighting the Olympic flame? Or a UFO appearing above the opening ceremony? Or maybe on Usain Bolt winning the men's 100 metre race?

With the London Olympics fast approaching, Britons are happily combining two of their favourite pastimes: sports and betting - no matter how ludicrous some of the bets.

"It is deep in the British psyche to have a bit of a flutter when it comes to sports. Sports and betting almost go hand-in-hand in this country," said Joe Crilly, a spokesman from bookmaker William Hill.

Less than two months away from kickoff, bookmakers are starting to close their books on the most popular bet so far - who will light the flame, the symbol of the Olympic Games, at the opening ceremony on July 27.

Bookmakers William Hill, Ladbrokes, Stan James and Coral all agreed the favourite for that coveted task in London, with odds of 1-3, is former rower Steve Redgrave, 50, Britain's most successful Olympian who won five gold medals from 1984 to 2000.

Bets were also running on the 83-year-old Roger Bannister, who made history as the first man to run the four-minute mile in 1954; Kelly Holmes, the retired British runner who won two gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics; and football star David Beckham.

HAIR ON FIRE?
William Hill has even taken some bets on whether London Mayor Boris Johnson would have a mishap when he runs with the Olympic torch, setting his notoriously wild hair on fire, and has odds of 5-2 on it raining on the night of the opening ceremony.

But spokesman Crilly said the weirdest bet yet was a 15 pound ($23) wager that a UFO would appear above the Olympic Stadium on the night of the opening ceremony. The odds? A massive payout at 1000-1.

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