London 2012: Sir Roger Bannister hot favourite to light Olympic flame
William Hill has stopped taking bets on Sir Roger Bannister lighting the Olympic cauldron after receiving a flurry of big bets backing the man who ran the first sub-four-minute mile.
Coral bookmakers are still taking bets, even though Sir Roger has now emerged as the overwhelming favourite to perform the task at Friday's opening ceremony.
Although Sir Roger competed at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, he failed to win a medal, meaning that he would be an unusual choice to light the flame, which has traditionally been an honour bestowed on great Olympians.
William Hill confirmed that they had closed the book on Sir Roger at lunchtime. "He went from 6-1 to even money and he was 33-1 just a few days ago," said a spokesman. "It's the second time it's happened, but it seem a bit illogical as he's got no strong link with the Games."
A spokesman for Coral said they were still taking bets and that Sir Roger was currently on 5-6, having seen his odds slashed from 7-1. Sir Steve Redgrave, meanwhile, is at 5-4.
"It's looking that way, but we're playing it very carefully," said a spokesman, who added that they had also seen money placed on novelty outsiders including James Bond, Harry Potter and Doctor Who.
Coral said they had also seen "significant money" on Thursday on David Beckham (7 from 14), Tom Daley (12 from 50), Bradley Wiggins (25 from 40) and Muhammad Ali (20 from 100).
"It's been an incredibly popular betting event, with everyone in our list attracting a bet, but it's Sir Roger that's the stand out selection with the punters at Coral," added the spokesman. "It seems to be the best kept secret around at the moment, and as long as it stays that way we will keep taking bets on it."
On Thursday morning, the organising committee's chief executive, Paul Deighton, said the person who would light the cauldron had been chosen and Team GB's chef de mission, Andy Hunt, said the decision had been "unanimous".http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/jul/26/london-2012-olympics-roger-bannister?CMP=twt_gu