Beijing: Usain Bolt broke his own world record to win a sensational Olympic Games 100m here on Saturday.
After posting the second fastest time in Games history in his semi-final, the Jamaican timed an astonishing 9.69sec with seemingly effortless ease, ahead of Trinidad's Richard Thompson and American Walter Dix.
His time would surely have been even faster had he not eased up in the final 10 metres, opening up his arms and patting his heart as he crossed the line.
FASTEST MAN ON EARTH: Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates after winning the men's 100 meters final.
The 21-year-old, who becomes the first Jamaican to win the Olympic 100m crown, beat home Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago (9.89secs) while Walter Dix of the United States was third in a time of 9.91 secs.
"I felt the world record earlier on," said Bolt. "I came here just to win and I did just that. I didn't even know I'd broken the world record until I did my victory lap."
"Now I'm just concentrating on my two races coming up. I came here prepared and I'm going to try and do it the (100 and 200m double)."
Bolt's compatriot and former world record holder Asafa Powell came fifth as six of the eight finalists finished under 10 seconds, a record for the Olympic final, which also equalled the 1991 world final in Tokyo when six men also dipped under the 10 second barrier.
Powell, who again failed on the big stage, paid handsome tribute to his compatriot who could well go on and add the 200m title later in the Games.
"He is the best ever sprinter and I've said that before," said the 25-year-old.
"He has run 9.69 and got the gold so he is definitely the greatest. It was a spectacular performance and he was definitely the best here. He could have run faster if he had run straight through the line."
Powell admitted he had run out of steam.
"I was feeling good but I didn't feel it in my legs. They died on me."
Bolt, who bettered compatriot Don Quarrie's silver medal from the 1976 Olympics, was headed by Thompson for the first part of the race but there was no contest once he got into his stride and went clear away from the field.
So commanding was his lead he eased up well before the line and held out his hands in celebration.
Behind him Thompson showed the same impressive form the 23-year-old had displayed during the earlier heats to hold on to second.
Dix, also an Olympic debutant, came on strong in the final metres to overhaul Powell, who lost out on fourth place to surprise package Churandy Martina of the Dutch Antilles.
World champion Tyson Gay, out of action for just over a month after suffering a hamstring injury before the Olympics, exited in the semi-finals earlier on Saturday, when he finished fifth.
In the women's heptathlon, Nataliia Dobrynska of Ukraine won gold, recording a total of 6733 points after the gruelling two-day, seven-discipline event.
Dobrynska's compatriot Lyudmila Blonska took silver, 33pts adrift, with overnight leader Hyleas Fountain of the United States claiming bronze at 6619pts.
Pre-event favourite Kelly Sotherton of Britain finished fifth on 6517pts, with Russian Tatiana Chernova in fourth.
Dobrynska's victory was based on two top performances in the shot put, in which she recorded a best of 17.29m, and the long jump, in which she jumped a lead of 6.63m.
A poor 24.39sec in the 200m was masked by a solid 13.44sec in the 100m hurdles, a 10th-best 1.80m in the high jump and an impressive 48.50m in the javelin throw.
She finished last in her 800m heat but recorded a time just fast enough to edge Blonska.
Fountain's superiority in the track events was shown up by her lack of power in the field events, the American managing only 13.36m in the shot and 41.93m in the javelin.
In the field, reigning world champion Valerie Vili of New Zealand beat Belarussians Natalia Mikhnevich and Nadzeya Ostapchuk to the women's shot put gold medal.
In the day's early medalling event, walker Valeriy Borchin held off former champion Jefferson Perez of Ecuador to hand Russia its first athletics gold of the Beijing Olympics.
Borchin won the men's 20 kilometres race walk in one hour, 19 minutes and 01 seconds for Russia's first-ever Olympic walking success.
The 22-year-old, who served a one-year drugs ban in the 2005/06 season, beat home 1996 Olympic champion Perez by 14 seconds, with Australian Jared Tallent a further 27 seconds adrift in the bronze medal position.
The semi-finals of the women's 800m saw fancied Kenyan duo Janeth Jepkosgei and Pamela Jelimo cruise through to Monday's final.
Mozambique veteran Maria Mutola also produced a last-gasp home-stretch sprint to qualify for her fifth Olympic final.
In a good night all round for Jamaican sprinters, the trio of Kerron Sterwart, Sherone Simpson and Shelly-Ann Fraser topped the timings of the second round of the women's 100m.
Teammates Markino Buckley and Danny MacFarlane also qualified for the men's 400m hurdles final alongside fancied American threesome of Angelo Taylor, Bershawn Jackson and Kerron Clement.