Four years ago Usain Bolt became the first ever man to run the 100 metres in a time of under 9.7 seconds, despite appearing to ease up as he approached the line. Many people said that that his time of 9.69 could stand for many years but Bolt flew out of the blocks like lightning in Berlin the following year, smashing his own record by 0.11 seconds. That was a time that appeared completely unbeatable and no one had come particularly close going into tonight's Olympic final. However this was the first time the four fastest men in history had raced against each other and this was always going to be a great race.
This year there were doubts surrounding the Jamaican legend after he was beaten in his country's Olympic trials by training partner Yohan Blake; a man who also won the 2011 World Championship after Bolt was disqualified for false-starting. Other contenders included former world record holders Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay, while 2004 champion in Athens Justin Gatlin went into the race as the fastest qualifier after winning his semi-final in 9.82 seconds.
Bolt was sluggish out of the blocks but quickly caught up with country-man Blake and Gatlin while Powell and Gay immediately struggled behind. Just when it looked like the three-time Olympic champion might lose his title he powered away from the field to win in a new Olympic record time of 9.63 seconds. The records continued to be broken as the other finalists crossed the line. Four men ran under 9.81 seconds and seven men ran sub-ten second times as the record books continued to be re-written in unprecedented fashion. Bolt's apprentice Blake took silver as Gatlin just dipped ahead of team-mate Gay to take bronze.
With the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence tomorrow a one-two was a fitting way to celebrate. The champion will go into the 200 metres hoping to become the first man to win four gold medals in 100 and 200 metre sprinting while tonight's win made him only the second man after Carl Lewis to win two 100 metre Olympic titles. In the 200 metres he will probably face an even tougher challenge from tonight's silver medallist.
Bolt acknowledged that this was his best ever win when he said: "I was happy when I went out in the first round, I felt like, I could do this. I think I sat in the blocks a little bit but the key was that I didn't worry about the start. My coach said to remember that the strongest part of my race is the end and that worked." He also recognized Blake's efforts: "I have to pay tribute to Blake because he always pushes me in training and he'll do even better next time."