07/27/2012 06:15 EDT | Updated 09/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Roger Bannister surges to front of the pack in race to light Olympic flame at opening ceremony

LONDON - With the finish line fast approaching, Roger Bannister has broken away from the pack and is now the bookmakers' clear front runner to light the Olympic cauldron later Friday.

British bookmaker William Hill says it has closed the market on Bannister after cutting odds from 6-1 to even money after a surge in betting on the first man to run the mile in less than 4 minutes.

The bookmaker says 98 per cent of all bets placed Thursday on who will light the flame at opening ceremony were for Bannister.

William Hill spokesman Richard Thomas says "if he does win, an awful lot of punters will be running ... down to their betting shops to pick up their winnings."

Steve Redgrave, Daley Thompson, Kelly Holmes and former England captain David Beckham are also among the favourites to light the flame.