Betting is an age-old pastime, dating back to beyond historical records. For as long as there have been contests with winners and losers, mankind has been betting on the outcome, a tradition that most likely originates in Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic Games and therefore the birthplace of Olympic betting.

Beginning with contests much like today, the original Olympic Games included events such as footraces, long jump, javelin, discus, wrestling and boxing with competitors hoping to win the prize money. Meanwhile, in the stands, spectators would bet amounts – sometimes vast – on the outcome of each event.

History of Olympic Betting

Although the basic premise has remained the same, the subject of betting has grown, although often mostly sports-focused. The English are renowned for betting on outlandish incidents. During the 18th and 19th Centuries, bets were made on the length of time taken to walk, run or even hop distances. In 1789, an Irishman won £20,000 after walking to Istanbul in less than a year. Jules Verne’s famous novel, Around the World in 80 Days, also centres on a bet concerning distance.

This evolved as sports became more specialised with the formation of the Football Association in 1863, the Rugby Football Union in 1871 and Test cricket in 1877, betting took on a whole new level. Football betting is now hugely popular, with one of the most historic upsets coming earlier this year in the form of Leicester City winning the Premier League title with 5 000-1 odds. The same betting odds given to Elvis Presley being found alive in 2016. The win is completely off the charts. Comparatively, the longest odds on a Grand National winner were 100-1 and England’s odds were 250-1 before winning the 1981 Ashes.

Olympic Betting Upsets

The introduction of sports’ governing bodies for professional sports just served to expand the sports betting sphere and now, betting on the Olympic Games is a worldwide phenomenon, having started with the same contest thousands of years ago.

And the Olympics have also seen some historical betting upsets. One of the most memorable being the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice’ at the Winter Olympics in New York where the American hockey team beat the Soviet Union 4-3 in the medal round. Comprising a team of seasoned professional players, the Soviet Union had won a number of previous Olympic gold medals in hockey and they had flattened the American side 10-3 in a pre-tournament game just days before. The result caused some major upsets for Olympic betting enthusiasts.

In the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, American wrestler, Rulon Gardner took on Russia’s Alexander Karelin. Betting odds against Gardner were 2000-1. Karelin was a three-time defending Olympic champion, on a 13-year winning streak, not having relinquished a single point in a decade. Despite this experience, Olympic novice, Gardner, went on to beat Karelin and take the gold causing Olympic betting fans to hang their heads in disappointment.

Olympic Betting in 2016

The Olympic Games continue to grow in size, with the constant inclusion of new sporting events attracting a massive international audience and fantastic Olympic betting opportunities. Along with the sporting events, Olympic betting fans also get creative offering odds on the number of positive doping tests or the first event to disqualify a contestant. And, with the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro just around the corner, Olympic betting enthusiasts can look forward to a variety contests, competitors and countries to wager on.

Place your Bets on events at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games here.

Read more about some of the Greatest Olympians here.

For the best Olympic Betting odds, visit Keith Ho BetXchange and place your bets on the Olympics, Rugby, Tennis, Cricket, Horse Racing and much more. Place your online sports bets at Keith Ho BetXchange.