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Who Will Light The Olympic Flame? This Dude, Probably.

We've shown you the best Olympic flame-lighting ceremony of all time, as well as the worst (and most genocidal.) But who gets the honor tonight?


By all accounts, it's going to be Roger Bannister, the first man to break the four-minute mile.

How do we know? Immediately after a dress rehersal of the opening ceremonies on Wednesday, participants flooded the U.K.'s sports books and started putting their money on Bannister.

Bannister remains a folk hero in Britain, despite the current mile record being 16 seconds faster than his 1954 mark, and despite never medaling at an Olympic games. (He finished fourth in the 1500m in 1952, in large part due to having to compete in a semifinal heat before the final. Bannister had never trained for multiple runs in such a short time.)

Steve Redgrave, who won golds in rowing at five straight Olympics, had long been considered the favorite to light the torch in East London. As of last week, Bannister had been sitting at 33-1 odds with bookmaker William Hill. But on Wednesday evening, about the time the ceremony run-through finished up, a run of bets on Bannister forced William Hill to suspend wagering.


The run-though didn't reveal the identity of the cauldron-lighter (and ceremony director Danny Boyle pleaded with volunteers to keep everything secret), but one witness told Yahoo that the set-up seemed to indicate a track athlete, and an older gent:

"I am not going to place a bet but it did look like it was set up for a runner from the past," said one Olympic volunteer. "When you try to imagine which famous figure would fit best into the way the Ceremony was conducted, Bannister was the obvious one to come to mind."


Despite that, some bookmakers are still taking bets on Bannister—though you won't get rich. You can get him at 1-1 at Ladbrokes, and Paddy Power still has Redgrave as the favorite. (Also among the frontrunners: David Beckham and the Queen.) So it's possible we're falling for a disinformation campaign. Even Bannister himself said last year that "At 83, I'm not expecting to play any particular role." But who are you going to believe? Some cheeky old British man, or the depraved gamblers of England, who could give two shits about Olympic heroes when they've got 50 quid on the elderly gent?

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