Did you ever doubt it? Usain Bolt confirmed himself as the fastest man in the world, the king of sprinters and, yes, quite possibly the greatest athlete of all time.

He won his fourth Olympic gold medal in defending his 100m title in London this morning, clocking an Olympic record 9.63s, .05s outside his world record set in Berlin in 2009.

It was the fastest athletes have ever run to get third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh in Olympic history. Only Asafa Powell faltered, pulling up injured after 70m.

Bolt, 25, relegated his slightly younger pretender, Yohan 'The Beast' Blake, who had beaten him twice at the Olympic trials in Jamaica, to second in 9.75s. Athens gold medallist Justin Gatlin finished third in a personal best 9.79s.


Gallery: Herald photographers Mark Mitchell and Brett Phibbs capture the men's 100m final

"I knew it was going to be like this. There wasn't a doubt in my mind it was going to be like this," Bolt told Associated Press.

Drama was narrowly avoided seconds before the race start when a bottle was thrown onto the track just metres behind the eight finalists.

According to reports the person who threw the bottle was grabbed by Dutch judo bronze medallist Edith Bosch before security took them away.

It was the most anticipated race of the Olympics, especially given that Bolt had come in with some patchy form. Allied to the emergence of Blake and the re-emergence 2004 champion and convicted drugs cheat Gatlin and it had all the makings of a classic.
It was.

Bolt did not start the fastest, he rarely does, but once he had gathered up his rivals by about 60m there was only one winner.

His celebrations were Olympic in scale too. A full lap of the field with a variety of dance moves, mock DJ'ing and even a few forward rolls thrown in. It was as he was on a mission to say hello to every Jamaican in the crowd.

He grabbed a Jamaican flag and waded into the roaring, undulating crowd alongside teammate Blake for hugs and congratulations.

Bolt has put to bed now thoughts he was on the wane.

After the race, Bolt told media he came out of the blocks slightly slowly because he did not want a repeat of last year's World Championships, where he was disqualified from the final for a false start.

"It wasn't the best reaction in the world but I executed it and that was the key. My coach said 'stop worrying about the start because the best part of your race is the end'. It worked.

"I said it on the track, people can talk, but when it comes to championships it is all about business for me and I brought it. It was wonderful. I knew [the crowd] would be like this, I can feel that energy and I am extremely happy."

He will start unbackable favourite to add the 200m double on Friday. His place in Olympia is assured, but another double will just speed up the application.

Carl Lewis was the last man to defend the 100m men's Olympic title, winning gold in 1984 and 1988.

His 1988 winning time of 9.92s would have earned him eighth place in this year's final, ahead of only Jamaican runner Asafa Powell, who pulled up lame part way into the race.

World media were quick to ask the question - is Bolt now the greatest sprinter of all time?

The Times of London proclaimed: "Oh ye of little faith."

"Usain Bolt turned back time, stopped the clock and made the world suspend its disbelief once more as the fastest phenomenon in history proved the man of the moment."

Britain's Daily Mail reported on the sheer numbers in Britain watching the race.

"In Britain alone the TV audience was expected to be about 15 million - a quarter of all Britons - with theatres and cinemas putting on special screenings that had begun in time to the semi-finals."

In Canada, the national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, led with the news of the Jamaican's win and described his actions afterwards.

"Bolt wagged his finger as he finished his jog, as if chiding critics who wondered if he still had the heart and legs to match his swagger," wrote their reporter at the Games, Jeff Blair.

And the Jamaica Observer had it just right. Bolt's hometown website headlined its homepage: Bolt is a legend.

Bronze medal winner Gatlin, 30, was competing in his first Olympics since taking out the 100m gold in the 2004 Athens games.

He was a controversial inclusion in the 100m field after being banned from the sport for four years in 2006 for using testosterone, a sex hormone which can be used as a steroid.

Gatlin claimed his masseuse had sabotaged him by rubbing testosterone cream onto his legs.

How would you go against Bolt's gold medal time? Test it out.

- with Herald Online