08/16/2008 at 01:00 PM EDT
With America’s Tyson Gay out of the 100-meter dash and teammate Asafa Powell his only major rival, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt was going to make like his name and explode off the blocks.
And what would his time be if he didn’t take a split second to do a chest pump before crossing the finish line?
Bolt ran 100 meters in a staggering 9.69 seconds, making him the fastest man on Earth. He bested his own world record mark of 9.72 seconds, which he set in New York just two months ago.
“I am going to celebrate this,” Bolt said after the race. “I want to say, I came here to prove I am the best. I have trained for years for this and prepared for this.”
Earlier in the night, the race lost some competitive heat when Tyson Gay failed to qualify after a disappointing semifinal. "Toward the finish line I couldn't tell if I made it to the finals or not,” Gay said afterward. “I looked up there and realized I didn't. It was kind of devastating.”
Gay’s absence left the door wide open for Bolt. “When I get back to the Village,” Gay said, “it's really probably going to set in.”
But not all was lost for the USA -- Walter Dix of Tallahassee, Fla., won bronze with a personal best of 9.91 seconds. “I’m glad to be on that podium for America,” Dix said. Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago came in second.