Updated Updated: October 14, 2019

Betting on Athletics, In-depth Guide

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Betting options

There are different types of bets you can place on athletics, although the market variety will not be as rich as in football or tennis for example. The best-betting markets value and variety are available at the major athletics events. Some of the common types of bets offered by most bookies include:

  • Straight bet – this is the most popular market when betting on athletics. You simply back the athlete you think will win an event. One drawback is that the odds tend to be pretty low, especially in events where there’s a clear favourite. Such was the case with Usain Bolt in all events he took part in during the Summer Olympics 2012 and 2016. This forced bookmakers to offer different markets, such as “winner without”.

  • Winner without – this betting market is available on athletic events where there is a clear favourite athlete to win with very short odds. In winner without, you back an athlete to win by eliminating the clear favourite out of the race. For example, if you back Justin Gatlin winner without Usain Bolt in the 100 meters race, your bet is a winner if Gatlin wins the race or comes second place only after Usain Bolt.

  • Each-way – covering the first three position, in any event, each-way betting can be profitable when you have an athlete you think could win an event, but is still considered unlikely by the bookies. Each-way covers your bases, where you can win if your chosen athlete wins the event but you can also win if the athlete finishes in a predetermined place in the top 3.

  • Set new world record – usually available during the biggest athletics events, the Olympics or World Athletic Championships. One option you have is to bet on an athlete who you think will set a new world record in a given event. The second option is to bet on an event you think will have its world record broken.

  • Win multiple events – here you can bet on an athlete to win multiple events, for example Usain Bolt to win the 100m and 200m races.

  • Total medals – particularly for the Olympic Games, some bookies will offer markets where you can bet on the total number of medals a country will win. You could bet for example on the exact number of medals to get the highest odds, for example Great Britain to win 15 medals, or you could bet over/under, Great Britain to win over 10 medals. Not very often, but sometimes bookmakers can offer the same markets for medals for individual athletes when a clear favourite competes in several events.

Athletics Betting Strategy And Tips

Athletics Betting Strategy And Tips

Betting on athletics has never been very popular with online bettors. One of the main reasons is that athletic events are pretty rare compared to other sports. While it has vastly increased in popularity and number of events in the last decades, athletics betting odds are still few and far between. Most bettors are used to having choices every day, but in athletics, these may come every year.

Even so, betting on athletics has its peak times, particularly every four years at the Summer Olympics when it reaches its climax. The most popular event in the Olympics is the 100-meter sprint race. After all, nearly everybody wants to know who the fastest man in the world is. Comparatively, the most popular betting market, football, barely makes it in the top 10 most popular sports at the Olympics.

Major athletic events are exciting and fun to watch. They are also betting opportunities to turn that excitement and fun into profit. To do so, one must have a betting strategy and keep in mind some athletics betting tips:

  • Familiarise yourself with the top contenders – take some time and do some research on the top contenders in an event. Don’t go into blind betting just based on odds. Instead, use the odds from various bookies to determine who the top contenders are but also some of the athletes with an outside shot of winning. Take it a step further, look at athletes’ recent performances and check their social media profiles. Social media is very powerful in terms of betting on athletics, it gives you live updates from the athlete: injury reports, confidence level and much more.
athletics variety
  • Understand the events – betting on athletics is not available on a daily basis, but when available it offers a huge selection. It is important to understand what you bet on, not just who you bet on. Each athletic event has its own distance, height or time to beat. A bettor should understand the rules and regulation of the many athletic events in order to make it profitable. For example, track and field is the most popular athletics betting market, but even it divides into 3 main events: track, field, and combined. The 100m sprint is just one of the many track events in the track and field discipline of athletics, such as the 200m, 400m, 1500m race and others. There are six disciplines in athletics, each with its various events:
  • Track and field
  • Road running
  • Race walking

  • Cross country running
  • Mountain running
  • Trail running

  • Where does the event take place? – When you decide on an event or athlete to bet on, you should learn about the conditions surrounding the event. Look at the layout of a venue, the facilities it offers and what the weather conditions will be at the time of the event.

  • Where to bet? – Once you have shortlisted the events or athletes you wish to bet on, it’s time to take it to a reputable bookmaker. There are numerous online bookies as well as brick to mortar ones that offer betting markets on athletics, especially during major events. Do some research on each bookmaker and pay close attention to their recent user reviews to determine the most suitable one to bet on athletics.

  • Slow and simple – if you’re new to athletics betting, keep your bets simple at first. Once you have some experience and a pulse of some events, you can start wagering on more complex selections.

  • Discipline and consistency – to make money betting on athletics you have to have discipline. Don’t get carried away if you have some beginner’s luck or are on a winning streak. Determine an amount of money you would be comfortable losing and put together a staking plan around it. Predetermine some percentages of your funds you will use to back a bet based on your confidence level. Be consistent and stick to those percentages and under no circumstances stake your entire funds on a single bet. A £100 bankroll can be gone in a split second when going all in on a bet. On the other hand, it can provide tons of opportunities to make some money betting on athletics when each wager is at the most 5% of the bankroll.

  • Compare odds at different bookies – when you decide on an athletic bet you wish to place a wager on, don’t just go for comfort. You may be tempted to use the online bookie you are already registered with or the land bookmaker just across the road, but you might find better odds value at different online bookies or farther away than across the road bookmakers. It is definitely time-consuming but it can give an edge to your athletics betting profits in the long run.

Athletics Major Events

Summer Olympics

The most prestigious athletic events that draw the highest public interest and bring the biggest stake for athletes, open the bookmakers to numerous betting markets on athletics. While on some bookies you can bet on college athletic events or even youth athletics, the best diversity and diversity in the betting market comes during two main events:

  1. Summer Olympics – athletics has been a staple of the Olympic Games since their beginning in ancient times, almost 3000 years ago. To this day, it still remains the most popular discipline at the Olympics. Bettor or not, everybody wants to see who world’s fastest man is in the 100m sprint race. The only negative with betting on athletics in the Summer Olympics is that it only happens every four years.
  2. World Athletic Championships – they take place every two years and are very popular for the athletes and public alike. After the Olympics, the World Championships are the next competition in terms of prestige. The original World Athletic Championships took place in 1976 and only had one event, the men’s 50 km walk. Since then, the competition expanded by adding other events and grew in popularity globally. At the most recent 2017 World Athletics Championships in London, over 2000 athletes took part from over 200 countries. It broke a record even before the opening of the competition: the highest number of tickets sold in the history of the championships, over 700,000 of them.

Other notable athletics competitions that offer good betting opportunities are:

European Championships
  • European Championships – taking place every two years, the European Athletics Championships bring some good betting markets. They also offer a look at the favourite athletes leading up to the Olympics.
  • Commonwealth Games – an international competition that takes every four years with athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations.

Online bookmakers to bet on Athletics

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Betting on athletics is thrilling and entertaining. It can also be profitable when a bettor has a strategy and takes time to do some research on events and individual athletes. Whilst not a big hit among bettors, most UK bookmakers do offer athletics betting markets. Some reputable online bookies for betting on athletics are:

  • BetVictor – covering the Olympic Games, World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games
  • Paddy Power – also covers most major athletic events and has a good ante-post athletics markets. You can bet years in advance on who will win a certain event at the Olympics.
  • William Hill – caters to almost all athletics competitions and offers a good range of selections from total medals and world records to be broken to the more traditional markets like a straight winner.

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