BERLIN (Reuters) - Usain Bolt delivered one of the most astonishing performances ever seen in athletics when he scorched to world championship 100 meters gold in a mind-blowing 9.58 seconds on Sunday.
The flying Jamaican took a massive 0.11 seconds off the previous record mark he ran to win the Olympic gold medal in Beijing one year ago to the day.
That left defending champion Tyson Gay a distant second even though the American’s time of 9.71 was the third-fastest ever. Asafa Powell of Jamaica was third in 9.84.
“I‘m not a person who thinks about world records, I think about championships,” Bolt said after sending the crowd into hysteria. “That’s what I went out to do and I ran a world record.”
The exploits of Jesse Owens in the same Olympic Stadium 73 years ago have been a hot topic of conversation in Berlin this week and Sunday’s show could have a similar shelf-life.
The 100 meters record is usually nibbled at in one or two hundredths of a second slices but Bolt took a huge bite out of it and has now dropped it from 9.74 to 9.58 in a little over a year.
Bolt had given an indication of what was to come when he clocked 9.89 in his semi-final without seeming to hit top gear. That also came after he had false-started for the first time in his career.
By the time of the final, conditions were perfect, with a warm evening and a legal tailwind of 0.9.
Bolt unwound his long frame instantly from the blocks and was up and into his running alongside the fast-starting Gay to take control after 20 meters.
He roared through the line, watching the clock all the while, before setting off on a lap of honor, talking to the media and posing for photos with fans for almost an hour.
Gay had no complaints after a superb performance on the back of a persistent groin injury.
“He ran a great race. I ran my best race but it wasn’t enough,” he said.
There were also gold medals for Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon, Valerie Vili in the women’s shot and Olga Kaniskina in the women’s 20km walk but, in truth, everything else was a sideshow.
Earlier, the women sprinters also took advantage of the balmy conditions to clock impressive times in the second round of their 100 meters.
Beijing silver medalist Kerron Stewart led the way with 10.92 and world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown also dipped under 11 seconds while easing up.
American champion Carmelita Jeter, Jamaica’s Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser, American Lauryn Williams, Trinidadian Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Bahamians Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and Chandra Sturrup also advanced well.
Russia’s Kaniskina easily retained her walk crown with a dominating display to win in 1:28:10.
Ireland’s Olive Loughnane took a surprise silver, ahead of China’s Liu Hong.
It was a similar story in the shot where New Zealander Vili retained her title with a fifth-round throw of 20.44 meters, holding off a determined challenge from local favorite Nadine Kleinert, who twice improved her personal best and took silver with 20.20.
Ennis took the heptathlon with a gun-to-tape performance having won three of the four events on Saturday to build a hefty overnight lead of 307 points.
The Briton was pegged back in the long jump and javelin but was still solid enough to go into the final 800 meters 171 points clear, representing a cushion of around 11 seconds.
The 23-year-old, who missed the Olympics with a broken ankle, then ran her heat from the front and completed an overwhelming victory with 6,731 points.
Germany’s Jennifer Oeser took silver and Poland’s Kamila Chudzik bronze.
Fans will have most of Monday free to further contemplate Bolt’s achievement as there is no morning program.
Five gold medals will be awarded in the evening session -- in the men’s 10,000 and hammer and the women’s 100m, 3,000m steeplechase, triple jump and pole vault.
Then on Tuesday it is the heats of the men’s 200 meters and the return of the Bolt.
Editing by Ed Osmond/Kevin Fylan