LONDON -- Sure, Usain Bolt ran the second-fastest 100 meters in track and field history and smashed the Olympic record with his 9.63-second victory Sunday night.
But that's only because he jogged the last 20 meters of his 9.69 gold at Beijing in 2008. Anyone who saw the Jamaica flash take his first Olympic gold at the 2008 Games knows it was only an 85-percent effort.
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"I was thinking of doing something like that again Monday night, but then I thought better of the idea," the jovial Bolt said after collecting the fourth Olympic gold of his celebrated career. Bolt holds the world record of 9.58 seconds, set at the world championships in 2009.
This was a total Bolt effort -- no jogging allowed -- because it had to be. Six of the other fastest men on the planet broke 10 seconds in his slipstream.
Teammate Yohan Blake, who shocked Bolt with twin defeats (100 and 200) at Jamaica's Olympic trials in June, ran the fastest 100 of his life but his 9.75 sufficed only for the silver.
Running 9.79 in third, USA's Brooklyn-born Justin Gatlin -- the 2004 Olympic champion on the comeback trail after a still-disputed four-year drug suspension -- registered a career-best performance, too.
USA's Tyson Gay, the 2007 world champion and another man on the comeback trail after injuries wiped out his 2011 season, was fourth in 9.80.
The race lived up to its billing as the heavyweight championship of footracing as the third consecutive day of double 80,000 crowds -- for morning and afternoon sessions -- got just the bang for their pounds they sought.
"Once I came into the stadium, saw all those people in the stands, and got their greeting, all my jitters went away," said Bolt, who went through his typical prerace gesticulating, hand-signaling routine.
Afterward, Bolt's competition praised the champion. Blake: "Usain Bolt, he's the fastest man in the world. But I've got asilver medal and what more can I ask for? To be the second-fastest man behind Bolt is an honor."
Gatlin: "Watching Bolt, what he has done, gives me my own inspiration to be a better runner. I'm just glad to have this moment, to be back on the podium once again, after eight years."
Bolt and Blake will be back Tuesday in the 200 meters. Gatlin and Gay return for the 4 x 100 relay Friday and Saturday.
More American disappointment came in the semifinals of the men's 400 meters, where USC's Byshon Nellum and University of Florida's Tony McQuay failed to make the cut for Monday night's final. That meant for the first time in Olympic history (save the boycotted 1980 Games), the U.S. will not have a male 400 finalist. The U.S. streak of seven consecutive men's 400 golds is done, too.
The fastest of all 400 qualifiers in 44.58 was Queens resident Lalonde Gordon, running for Trinidad and Tobago.
The day began with the women's marathon. For most of the race, it was a four-woman duel, but Tiki Gelana pulled away and crossed the line in 2:23:07, an Olympic record performance. "As soon as the rain started, I said to myself, thank God," Gelana said. "I loved running in the rain, I've been doing that since I was a small child."
Top American hopeful Shalane Flanagan ran with the lead pack over half the way before settling for 10th in 2:26:07.