First came the lightning, then came the Bolt, as the planet’s fastest man emphatically reclaimed his World 100 metres crown on Sunday.
Usain Bolt made light of a Russian rainstorm to reign supreme and wash away the memory of his false start disqualification in Daegu two years ago.
In so doing, he also banished the spectre of a convicted drugs cheat winning athletics’ blue riband title by coming from behind to beat Justin Gatlin in a time of 9.77 seconds.
Unfortunate news though from Moscow for Cayman’s sole representative at the world championships – Kemar Hyman was disqualified in Heat 7 of the 100m due to a false start.
“I keep telling people I try to keep the sport open,” Bolt said. “I want to distract people away from the bad things. I help in any way I can.”
As if receiving divine approval, a spectacular lightning flash lit up the Moscow sky as he crossed the finish line ahead of Gatlin (9.85) and Nesta Carter (9.95).
“Back in Jamaica, they do not expect less than that from me,” added Bolt, uncharacteristically subdued.
“I was never worried, I know what I am capable of. But I wanted to do better.”
He had been downbeat all week. Not speaking to the media, not larking about on the start line, not cutting a single ‘lightning’ pose.
The reason was not illness, nor injury. Not because his pal Asafa Powell was banned, or No.1-ranked Tyson Gay for that matter. It was because, with them missing, this was a title he was afraid to lose.
Having told the world to “bask in my glory” after London 2012, the thought of losing to disgraced former Olympic and World champion Gatlin seemed to spook the fun out of him.
The pair had been at odds since Gatlin allegedly spat across Bolt’s lane before a race some years back in what the Jamaican saw as an attempt to intimidate him. The American also claimed the world was bored with the ‘Bolt show’.
Had Gatlin won, there was every chance Bolt would not have heard the end of it.
There was no need to worry. The 26-year-old got away slowly as usual, his reaction time out of the blocks only fifth fastest and he trailed Gatlin to the 60-metre mark.
But once he was upright, he ate up the deficit before splashing to glory and an incredible 12th championship title in five years.
Only then did the smile return. “I want to be mentioned alongside greats like Pele, Maradona and Muhammad Ali,” he said. There is every chance he will get his wish.
Now Bolt goes for the 200m title.