Bookies to refund all cauldron bets after young athletes do the honours at opening ceremony

 

Bookmakers have pledged to refund all bets placed on who would light the Olympic cauldron after some of Britain's greatest Olympians teamed up with young athletes for the honour.

No-one could have predicted the surprise move and the only fair solution was to refund more than £50,000 of bets placed over the last seven years, William Hill said.

Other bookmakers, including Sky Bet, also voided all bets, saying it was "impossible to back the correct flame lighter".

Britain's greatest Olympian, Sir Steve Redgrave, an early favourite to light the cauldron, ran into the stadium holding the Torch last night.

But he was greeted by seven young athletes, each nominated by himself and British Olympic heroes Lynn Davies, Duncan Goodhew, Dame Kelly Holmes, Dame Mary Peters, Shirley Robertson and Daley Thompson.

It was the young athletes who each lit one of the copper petals which had been brought into the stadium with the teams and then rose to form the cauldron.

Graham Sharpe, of William Hill, said the firm would be refunding everyone's stake.

"What happened, no-one could have predicted," he said.

"It was not put to us, nobody quoted it.

"The only fair thing to do was to refund all the bets from over the last seven years."

He went on: "Sir Steve Redgrave was an early favourite.

"It's like a horse coming along the final leg, then along comes another horse and the jockey jumps off and gets on the other one.

"We've got to hold our hands up.

"Everyone has had a lot of fun, but there was no declared winner.

"Let's move on and start backing the next one."

It had been a "lively market" with lots of relatively small £5, £10 and £20 bets, he added, with the biggest stake placed being £100.

More than £50,000 was placed at William Hill on athletes including Sir Steve and Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to break the four-minute mile.

PA

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