Athletics Betting Guide

Athletics betting covers a group of sporting events. Let see how to bet on running, jumping, and throwing, and the athletics events you can bet on.

Athletics betting covers a group of sporting events. These events revolve around running, jumping, and throwing, with many of these sports being incorporated into the same event. Most of you are likely to be familiar with most of these events through the summer Olympics but as we will outline through this athletics betting guide there are tournaments held throughout the year which can also be bet on.

Athletics Betting Explained

Betting on Athletics can be very exciting as you are not limited to just betting on a single sport. The most common type of bet is to bet on which athlete will be the winner of a race or which athlete will win a gold medal. It will also be possible to bet on whether an athlete can reach the podium or set a new world record.

It is a case-by-case basis but on some events, you will be able to place bets on more exotic athletic markets such as will there be a new world record? Will Usain Bolt win every gold medal he is competing for?

To understand athletics betting odds, check out our overall introduction to betting.

Athletics Betting Markets

Athletics is made up of several sports. Some of these sports produce superstars that are among the most famous sportspeople in the world such as Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis Hill. While some of these sports or more obscure and receive only a fraction of this limelight. This doesn't mean that these events are less fun to bet on, however. Down below is a summarization of the sports you are likely to see at an athletics event.

Track & Field

track and field icon

If you can now picture the scene of an athletic event. There is a running track around the arena where races occur such as the 100 Metres. While in the middle there is a huge field where events such as the Javelin occur. This mix is why these sports are often referred to as track and field events.


It wouldn't be controversial to suggest that the running events within athletics receive the most mainstream attention. Mo Farah, Usain Bolt, and Michael Johnson are just some of the names that have gone on to become household names around the world. The most notable events include the 100m, 200m, and 400m. The hurdles, as well as middle-distance running which can be up to 10,000 meters.


The jumping events in the athletic world can in their simplest terms be broken down into two sections. Firstly there are events where you are judged on how far you can jump. These two events are named the long jump and the triple jump. Both involve jumping into a sandpit from a designated starting point. Whichever athlete records the biggest distance is the winner of the event.

The other events revolve around jumping over a bar in the air. These events are called the high jump and the pole vault. The high jump is simply an event where an athlete needs to jump over a bar in front of them and whoever records the highest distance wins. The pole vault is an event where an athlete uses a piece of apparatus to elevate them in the air but the principles of these two events are the same.


The throwing events in athletics all share the same objective. The shot put, Discus throw, Hammer throw, and Javelin throw are all events where an athlete throws their respective object as far as they possibly can. The athlete to record the furthest distance will be the winner of this event.


racewalking icon

Racewalking is often held on open roads although the sport can also be held on an athletics track. This is one of the oldest athletic sports despite the event fading into obscurity. Racewalkers must always have a foot in contact with the ground and their advancing leg must be straightened, not bent at the knee - failure to follow these rules results in disqualification from the race.

Cross Country Running

cross country running icon

Cross Country Running takes place in an open-air setting, this can include grass, woodland trails, and Earth. These events are held over long distances. A typical distance would be 3km (1.9 miles). The annual IAAF World Cross Country Championships began in 1973 and this remains the most prestigious event within the sport. Not all bookmakers cover this sport as it is one of the more obscure sports within athletics.

Mountain Running

mountain running icon

Mountain running as the name suggests is a race that is set among hills and mountains which makes the event particularly taxing for the runners. The extreme nature of the hills and slopes will determine race by race. The number of events available to bet on will be limited as most of the events are extremely obscure and therefore don't receive a lot of attention.

Road Running

road running icon

Road running according to IAAF regulations needs to be held on an established road and is one of the oldest events in athletic history. These events are usually held over long distances. The most famous one by far being the Marathon. This is a race held over the distance of 26 miles where the winner usually records a time around the 2-hour mark. This is an event in the Summer Olympics while the London and New York Marathon is arguably just as prestigious.

Trail Running

trail running icon

Trail running needs to be completed on an unpaved surface. In many aspects, the sport is very similar to mountain running. The only real difference being that mountain running may include paved sections. This important distinction can mean that the run can be particularly challenging on the athlete's feet. Similar to both Mountain and Road Running the sport is obscure and it can be difficult to find it on a betting market.

Different Betting Markets In Athletics
Different Betting Markets In Athletics

Types of Bets in Athletics

In Athletics, there are various betting markets you can bet on. You might be thinking that the only option available to you would to bet on the outright winner of a race or an event. However, there are many athletic betting markets available to the customer, and this number will only increase the more prestigious the event.

To Qualify

There are numerous events where an athlete has to go through several qualifying events to qualify for the main race. For example, an athlete just doesn't find themselves in the final of the 100 meters, they need to qualify from the races that proceed it. This can be done by finishing in the top three in a race or by recording one of the fastest times. Some bookmakers will offer punters the chance to bet on which athletes will qualify.

To Win

This is the simplest form of athletics betting. You can bet on who will win the race or the event in question. For example, you can bet on athlete A to win the gold medal in the javelin. There are also individual races that can occur without a medal being on the line. For example, you can bet on Runner B to win the race.

To Be On The Podium

If an athlete is in the top three positions for a race they would find themselves on the podium. For some events, this is merely a token but for a lot of high-profile events in athletics, this will mean that an athlete has won a medal. At the Olympics for example the medals will be arranged in the well-known order of Gold, Silver, and Bronze. In this instance to appear on the podium is the dream for many athletes.

To Set a New Record

On some bookmakers, you will be able to bet if an athlete will set a new record. World records are a big deal in the Olympics and some of them are met with a lot of prestige. The best athletes in the world are not just pressured into winning the gold medal, questions are also asked if they can break particular records set. Without a doubt, the most coveted world record in athletics is that of the 100m. This is currently held by Usain Bolt with a time of 9.58 seconds.

To Be Disqualified

Not every event or bookmaker will have this is as an option for the better due to the very nature of it being one of the easiest markets open to corruption. Despite this, disqualification happens frequently in the sport of athletics and for the main events, such issues are much less of a concern so bookmakers might offer their customers this option. The outcome of this bet is very simple, for you to win the bet the athlete you have selected will need to be disqualified from the event they are competing in.

Athletics Competitions To Bet On

There are many athletic competitions held around the world and they will differ in prestige significantly. In some sports such as football for example it can be difficult to clarify the most prestigious tournament as opinions will vary. however, in athletics, this is much easier defined.

Summer Olympics

summer olympics logo

The Summer Olympics is ultimately what an athlete will be judged on. They can win all the other events available to them but if they finish their career without a gold medal it would be impossible for someone to label them as the best. Alternatively, a gold medal can elevate an athlete to stardom overnight. This applies to all forms of athletics as it is the landmark of their sport. This probably raised due to the fact that the Olympics is watched by millions of people who would otherwise not be interested in an athletics event.

Athletics World Championships

World Athletics Logo

The Athletics World Championships are held every year and outside of the Olympics is the most prestigious level of competition within the sport. All of the best athletes around the globe compete in these events and for each event, an athlete competes in they have the potential to receive a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal.

Commonwealth Games games logo

The Commonwealth Games runs in a very similar fashion to the summer Olympics. The only difference is the obvious drop-down in the level of prestige and the event consists of athletes who are from the commonwealth of nations. Because of this some of the world's best athletes are unable to compete in this event but it is still one of the most prestigious events an athlete can compete in.

Diamond League

Diamond League Logo

The Diamond League is held every year and is made up of elite track and field athletic competitions. One of the league's aims is to 'enhance the worldwide appeal of athletics by going outside of Europe for the first time. This event is still not as prestigious as others but the IAAF hopes that this perception will change over time.


Marathons are run over 26 miles with events such as the London, and New York Marathon being one of the most significant events on the sporting calendar. The majority of bookmakers will offer at least two bets for these special occasions. The first one being the outright winner and the second one being the change of a new record for the respective Marathon.

Athletics Betting Strategies

If you want to have success with betting it is important you start with good athletics betting strategies. To do things right, you sometimes have to learn what doing them wrong means. Below is a list of some of the things you should do as well as avoid when betting on athletics.

Don't bet on all sports, stick to a couple

Because Athletics comprises many sports it might be tempting to bet on all of them because it can make the betting experience more fun. however, this isn't a strategy conducive to making a consistent profit. Most effective betting strategies revolve around repeating the same process time and time again, and to do this efficiently it is best to bet on an event you feel most comfortable with. Your comfort should come with the amount of knowledge and research you have taken in the sport.

Many high-profile athletes place importance on the most prestigious events in their sport, occasionally treating lesser known events as an opportunity to gain fitness with the result not being the most important thing they are looking to take away from the event. This is a nightmare for betters as we are unsure if an athlete is competing at their full capacity. In such situations, we should avoid betting on said events.

Place bets on over/under finish times

On racing events the eventual time of the winner or any given athlete will be officially recorded. Therefore some bookmakers offer their clients the chance to bet on over/under markets. For example you can bet on athlete to finish the 100 meters under 10 seconds. If they finish over this amount, this would result in a losing bet. However if they finished under this amount your bet will be a successful one.

Use betting exchanges to lay athletes

Betting exchanges have been a revolution in the gambling world. Did you know that instead of betting on athletes to win a race you can bet against them? This means that you will have a winning bet if the athlete you have backed does not win the race.

Know about athlete injuries and recoveries

Injuries in athletics will hamper the chances of an athlete winning their respective event. In racing events, just a few fractions of a second can be the difference between first and second place, while centimeters can be the difference in throwing and jumping events.

Study each athlete recent form

because we only watch/bet on athletics once every few years, we tend to think that the most popular athletes are still the best in the world but there is a lot of time between the Olympics for example and everything can change in the course of this time. You would be better off to see if such athlete has continued with their form since then or if there is anyone new on the block that is likely to take all the main titles within the sport.

athletics betting tips
Tips & Strategies When Betting On Track & Field and Athletics

Betting On Athletics: FAQ

Answers to the most common athletics betting questions.

What can you bet on in athletics?

It is possible to bet on a wide range of sports within athletics. Not only this, but you can also bet on betting markets within the event such as will there be a new world record broken?

Is betting on athletics profitable?

Betting on athletics can be profitable but some principles of betting always need to be followed. your win rate will be determined by several factors. Some of the most important being the quality of your selections, the strategy you decided to implement and the discipline you show in regards to bankroll management.

What are the best types of wagers in athletics betting?

We wouldn't say there are any which could fit this description as this will ultimately be determined by your levels of success with such bets. There are numerous betting markets within athletics that can be conducive to good betting strategies.

How to wager on a sprinter breaking a new record time?

Some bookmakers will give betters an opportunity to place a bet on a record being broken in the 100 metres for example. This could be classified as en exotic bets and the odds will be appealing as the chances of a record being broken in a particular race are slim.

Is in-play live betting available for athletics?

In-play betting on athletics can be profitable providing you know what you are doing but it will only be available on events where this is enough time to make adjustments to the odds. For example, a long jump contest will have in-play betting while the 100 meters race will not.

Athletics betting can be very profitable for serious gamblers. The number of events can make it action-packed for betters which means that you should be able to find some quality value bets. The amount of research you put in and the effectiveness of your strategy will go a long way