Usain Bolt racked up his sixth world title in Moscow to go alongside his half dozen Olympic golds – and then declared he was far from done with winning.
Amid the driving rain and flashes of lightning, the world record holder powered down the drenched blue Mondo track to take 100 metres gold ahead of two-time former drugs cheat Justin Gatlin.
The American clocked 9.85secs, with Bolt’s fellow Jamaican Nesta Carter getting bronze in 9.95s.
The 26-year-old will probably end up leaving Russia with 14 global golds to his name with the 200m and the relay to run, elevating the self-proclaimed “living legend” to an even more dizzying status.
“I am going to try continue winning championships. I want to be mentioned alongside greats like Pele, Maradona and Muhammad Ali,” he said.
It would take a hard man to say he is not already there.
The conditions at the Luzhniki Stadium last night were quite something, with Bolt even pretending to hold up an umbrella as he joked around before the start.
He was out of the blocks well and, just as it looked as if Gatlin, in the lane inside him, might be closing, he pulled clear to reclaim the title he lost after that sensational false start in the final in Daegu two years ago.
There were four Jamaicans in the top five, with Kemar Bailey-Cole fourth in 9.98 and Nickel Ashmeade fifth in the same time.
Bolt said: “I wanted to do a better time, but was not able to because of the weather. This is just one of those days – not ’singing in the rain’, but ’running in the rain’.”
Gatlin added: “We saw the lightning on the horizon when we were on the warm-up track. Then we saw the tent rattling and I thought they were going to postpone the race.”
This final had been headed for a mouthwatering showdown between Bolt and a rejuvenated Tyson Gay, before the latter’s failed drug test sent shock waves through athletics. Former world record holder Asafa Powell’s failed test was confirmed hours later and the sport was on its knees.
So it was perhaps apt that tonight’s race was a head-to-head between Bolt, the saviour of the sport, and Gatlin, who has twice served drug bans, including a four-year suspension, which ended in 2010.
The American had beaten Bolt by a whisker at a Diamond League meeting in Rome at the start of the season, but the world stage is where the world record holder feels at home.
He said: “It was an average start and that, for me, is a great start. Around great starters like Gatlin and Carter I knew I had to get it right. I knew Gatlin was not going to crack under pressure so I had to stay focused and run to the line.”
Gatlin added: “He’s a competitor and a showman. He’s a gamer. If you’re going to get beaten then get beaten by the best.”
Bolt also raised expectations he could add another title in Glasgow next summer, saying the Commonwealth Games was “something I’m thinking about.”