In the process, not only did the 22-year-old Jamaican live up to all the fevered expectations since his China tour de force. In the same historic stadium where Jesse Owens created his legend 73 years ago, Bolt again embellished his own by recording the greatest single increase in the 100m record by lopping off 0.11sec from the time he set in Beijing.

Exactly a year to the day since his landmark run of 9.69sec in China, Bolt became the only man in history ever to cross the line first in two successive major championship 100m finals record with a new world record to his name. Forget the figures, though; just gasp once more at the sight of the eighth wonder of the world.

And so much for the feverishly-hyped "grossen duell". Tyson Gay, America’s reigning champion, gave it his best shot in the adjacent lane, recording the third fastest time ever, 9.71sec but it can hardly be described as a two-horse race unless you concluded that Bolt’s brilliance made it resemble Nijinsky versus a selling plater.

The world had always fancied after Beijing that if Bolt ever decided to run the full distance instead of indulging in breast-beating showboating en route, then he could take his own record to the cleaners and on a night balmy enough to pass for Kingston, so it came to pass.

This was quite, quite unreal. Bolt did not get the greatest start and yet once into his stride he just destroyed his opposition. And, yes, he could still afford a quick glance left and right to the opposition before he hit the line, looked at the clock and then wheeled away around the track like an aeroplane.

Asafa PowelI, his compatriot, clocked 9.84sec for the bronze medal behind Gay while Britain’s Dwain Chambers played his part in one of the greatest sprint contests in history as he set a season’s best 10.00 seconds for sixth place.

It was utterly jaw-dropping yet only a couple of hours earlier, for the first time there was just the faintest hint at the start of the semi-final that, amid all the hoopla, Bolt might actually be nervous because, although he went through his usual daft antics on the line, when he finally settled down in his blocks, the unthinkable happened; he false started.

Last week, the IAAF had announced that from January they would introduce, for the first time, instant disqualification for any sprinter who false starts just once but Bolt had laughed off the change in the rules, noting: "No problem for me. I don’t false start."

Really? No wonder he looked sheepish, knowing that if the same thing should befall him in, say, the London Olympics in 2012 he would be out the competition.

Second time around, it was Britain’s luckless Tyrone Edgar who was disqualified after leaping out of his blocks a fraction early. Yet at the third time of asking, Bolt was still so unfazed, he was quickest from the blocks and was able to start looking to his side and jogging home from 40 metres out.

He still clocked 9.89sec. Impossible. Five of the other finalists qualified in under 10 seconds but they were working. Bolt was taking a Sunday evening constitutional.

At that moment it was obvious something special was in the air yet, sadly in a 73,000-seat arena there appeared to be 20,000 empty seats. On a night like this? With athletic genius at play? It felt criminal; athletics really must be in trouble.

From his opening heat 10.20sec dawdle on Saturday morning, Bolt, who has been pursued by rain and bad conditions all summer, had looked ominously close to his best following recuperation from his car accident in April.

Next stop on Tuesday morning are the heats of the 200m as he sets out to attack his world half-lap record of 19.30sec and to join Gay, Justin Gatlin and Maurice Greene as the only men to achieve the 100m/200m double in the same world championship.

The benefit of Bolt’s triumph for a beleaguered sport felt warmly obvious. As he took his lap of honour doing his archer impression again to Berlin’s ecstatic cheers, he looked every inch the sport’s pied piper and you remembered how he had recently pondered what he was ultimately capable of in the 100 metres.

"I think I could go 9.4 but I think the world stops at 9.4," he said. Thank heavens it has still not stopped yet for the fastest man on earth. 9.58 seconds? It is apparently a mere staging post.

Evolution of the men’s 100 metres world record

10.6 seconds Donald Lippincott (US) July 6, 1912
10.4
Charles Paddock (US) Apr 23, 1921
10.3 Percy Williams (Canada) Aug 9, 1930
10.2 Jesse Owens (US) June 20, 1936
10.1 Willie Williams (US) Aug 3, 1956
10.0 Armin Hary (West Germany) June 21, 1960
9.95 Jim Hines (US) Oct 14, 1968
9.93 Calvin Smith (US) July 3, 1983
9.92 Carl Lewis (US) Sept 24, 1988
9.90 Leroy Burrell (U.S.) June 14, 1991
9.86 Lewis Aug 25, 1991
9.85 Burrell July 6, 1994
9.84 Donovan Bailey (Canada) July 27, 1996
9.79 Maurice Greene (U.S.) June 16, 1999
9.77 Asafa Powell (JamaicWorld ) June 14, 2005
9.74 Powell Sept 9, 2007
9.72
Usain Bolt (Jamaica) May 31, 2008
9.69 Bolt Aug 16, 2008
9.58 Bolt Aug 16, 2009