From the Zika virus to Russian doping, the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro have already courted controversy. However, the very essence of the Olympics is overcoming adversity in attaining monumental feats, which is why recent events should not overshadow what is certain to be another thrilling athletic spectacle.
With more than 300 events scheduled across 42 disciplines, there is a wealth of action to keep track of. So for your convenience, here’s a round-up of the main events to watch out for.
Jamaican Usain Bolt became a legend when he won the 100m and 200m races at London 2012, having already won both races at Beijing 2008. At Rio, the Montego Bay native will be 29 years old, making this the last Olympics of his 20s. Even Bolt cannot outrun the ageing process, as he realised when he tore his hamstring at the Jamaican trials.
Despite this setback, Bolt was able to regain enough fitness to win the 200m at the London Anniversary Games in 19.89 seconds. No mean feat. That being said, the sprinter will need to improve if he is to reach his target time of sub-19 seconds.
Bolt currently holds the 100m and 200m world records, but an improvement in the latter is his main goal. Although he had a winning return, Bolt drew little comfort from his London performance:
"I wasn’t that impressed…I don’t want to see it again."
Whether or not he can continue his superhuman streak will arguably be the story of the games. For those who believe he can, Ladbrokes has priced Bolt at 4/9 for the 100m final on 14 August (02:25 BST) and 2/5 for the 200m on 19 August (02:35 BST).
Team GB’s Mo Farrah is another runner who aims to defend two titles in Rio, with the 33-year-old preparing for the 5,000m and 10,000m races. If Farrah manages it, then he would be the first in 40 years – the last was Finland's Lasse Viren in 1976.
Among some analysts, there is a greater belief in Farrah winning his two races than for Bolt. This is because Farrah has maintained superb form following London 2012, having won nine of 12 races in the 5,000m and all five 10,000m outings. Most recently, Farrah clocked in at 12 minutes and 59.29 seconds, cruising to victory in the 5,000m at the Anniversary Games.
In Rio, the 10,000m men’s final will take place on 13 August (01:55 BST), with bet365 pricing Farah at 1/4. Seven days later, the 5,000m final will be hosted on 20 August (01.30 BST), while bet365 has again offered 1/4 on Farrah winning gold.
Saturday 13 August will reveal four of the early track and field gold medals, including the men’s long jump final (00:50 BST), men’s 10,000m (01:55 BST), women’s 100m (02:35 BST) and women’s heptathlon (02:45 BST), which will feature London 2012 champion Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Three more finals are planned for Sunday 14 August, with the Women’s triple jump (00:55 BST), men’s 400m (02:00 BST) and men’s 100m (02:25 BST) to look forward to. Another big day will be Wednesday 17 August, when three women’s finals will be held, including the long jump (01:15 BST), 200m (02:30 BST) and 100m hurdles (02:55 BST).
For track and field odds, bet365 has compiled a long list of markets.
The first of the big swimming medals will be decided on Saturday 6 August, with the 400m individual medley finals for both men and women starting at 02:00 BST. A day later, the men’s 100m breaststroke and women’s 400m freestyle will start at 02:00 BST on Sunday 7 August.
On Monday 8 August, fans will get to watch finals for the women’s 100m backstroke and men’s 200m freestyle from 02:00 BST. The pool-based action will continue throughout the week, with medallist Michael Phelps (USA) expected to compete in the 200m individual medley on Thursday 11 August (02:00 BST) and 100m butterfly on Friday 12 August (02:00 BST).
Visit Ladbrokes now to find a wide array of swimming odds.
Following Euro 2016 and the Copa América, it’s certainly time for the women to shine in Rio. Ahead of the women’s football final on Friday 19 August (21:30 BST), the USA is seen as the team to beat, having won the World Cup a year ago.
Meanwhile, the men’s final will be decided on Saturday 20 August (21:30 BST), with Brazil eager to claim the only major football crown eluding the nation. In pursuit of glory on home soil, Brazil forward Neymar chose to rest during the Copa América and ensure he would be in peak condition.
When the 2016 Olympics begin, Coral will have the very latest odds on all matches and medals. With so much action for bettors to enjoy, the only question is: who will you put your money on?