Bookies William Hill has closed its betting for who will light the Olympic cauldron “after a monster gamble on Sir Roger Bannister saw his price slashed from 6/1 to even money yesterday.”

In total, 98% of bets yesterday were for Bannister to be given the honour.

Bannister competed in the 1952 Olympics, where he was favourite for the 1500m, but almost quit sport when he was not victorious. However, on May 2 1953, he created a new record, running the world’s first four-minute mile.

However tonight’s caldron-lighting role has not been confirmed and other contenders include Sir Steve Redgrave, David Beckham, Daley Thompson, Prince William and Dame Kelly Holmes.

While there has been strong support for  five-time gold medallist Redgrave, double Olympic champion Thompson and Bannister, rumours are circulating that five athletes may be involved, symbolising the five rings of the Olympics.  

British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Hunt has confirmed that several British Olympic legends will take part in Danny Boyle’s £30 million opening ceremony tonight.

“I’m pleased with the outcome, it is a unanimous choice,” he said.

“Some of our greatest Olympians are going to be honoured throughout the whole end sequence of the ceremony.”

London 2012 chief Seb Coe has told the country to keep guessing, suggesting that even the person chosen would probably not be told until the day of the opening ceremony.

“It’s the big national pub game, isn’t it? Who’s lighting the torch and what’s in the ceremony?” Coe said.


Image: Roger Bannister passes the Flame to Torchbearer 001 Nicola Byrom on the track at Iffley Road Stadium, Oxford on July 10 (Getty)

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