Jamaica’s Usain Bolt became the first athlete to win three Olympic 100m titles by beating American Justin Gatlin to gold at Rio 2016.
Bolt, 29, ran 9.81 seconds in his final Olympics to replicate his success at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Gatlin, twice banned for doping offenses, finished 0.08 seconds behind Bolt to take silver.
“I expected to go faster, but I’m happy that I won,” Bolt told media. “I’m here to perform. I did what I had to.”
Canada’s Andre de Grasse took bronze in a personal best of 9.91, ahead of Bolt’s Jamaican team-mate Yohan Blake.
Bolt remains on target to leave Rio with a third successive Olympic treble after winning the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay titles in 2008 and 2012.
The world record holder said in February he would retire from athletics after the 2017 World Championships.
Bolt was slower out of the blocks than 34-year-old Gatlin, who was aiming to regain the title he won at Athens 2004.
But he surged through from 60 meters to pass Gatlin and comfortably win his seventh Olympic gold.
Bolt received a hero’s reception as he walked out into Rio’s Olympic Stadium before the race, and the crowd chanted his name after his victory.
|Bolt’s major 100m wins|
|2008 Olympic Games, Beijing||9.69 – world record|
|2009 World Championships, Berlin||9.58 – world record|
|2012 Olympic Games, London||9.63 – Olympic record|
|2013 World Championships, Moscow||9.77|
|2015 World Championships, Beijing||9.79|
|2016 Olympic Games, Rio||9.81|
Booed Gatlin comes up short again
Gatlin is a divisive figure in the sport having twice been banned for doping offenses and, in stark contrast to Bolt’s reception, walked out to the start line to a chorus of boos.
Bolt admitted afterwards he was “surprised” by the crowd’s reaction.
Gatlin’s first drugs ban in 2001 was reduced from two years to one after he proved the amphetamines he was taking were for an attention deficit disorder.
He then tested positive for testosterone in 2006, a year after winning the 100m and 200m double at the World Championships.
The American served a four-year ban that was twice reduced, first from a lifetime then to eight years.
Gatlin returned to the track in 2010, claiming Olympic bronze at London 2012 and losing to Bolt in the 2015 World Championships.
He was the clear favorite to win in Beijing last year, and many thought he could beat Bolt in Rio.
Gatlin had recorded the fastest time of the year, clocking 9.80 last month, while Bolt injured a hamstring at the end of June.
However, Bolt showed an expectant Rio crowd he was in great shape by clocking a season’s best 9.86 as he cantered to victory in his semi-final.
And the sport’s greatest showman produced an even better run when it really mattered to send the Olympic Stadium into raptures.
Michael Johnson, four-time Olympic gold medalist:
“That was a fantastic performance by Usain Bolt, he slowed down and said ‘I’ve got this’. It wasn’t about the time, it was just about winning the gold and going out on top.
“I didn’t expect the race to unfold the way it did.
“Gatlin got a great start but it was always within Usain Bolt’s reach because he is healthy.
“He has been an amazing ambassador for this sport and in creating a brand for himself and the Jamaican athletes.”
Steve Cram, BBC athletics commentator:
“He still looks like he really enjoys this. This is what he does. He gathers titles like daisies in a field.
“Our sport has a lot of critics and it’s going through dark times but we should not forget that this is what can be done. This is what can be achieved.
“He is almost God-like.”