Usain Bolt restored order to the world of sprinting.
Reclaiming the 100-meter world championship gold he lost through a false start in South Korea two years ago, the Olympic champion again holds every major sprint title there is.
And he shook off rain, sore legs, a slow start and any doubters Sunday to prove there has never been anyone quite like him on the track.
“For me to come in and regain my title, it’s always great to be back,” Bolt said.
Despite getting late out of the blocks in the downpour, the Jamaican great steadily caught up with 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin and left the American behind with a trademark late burst of speed that no one can match.
“I came out here just to execute and get it right and to win,” Bolt said. “That’s what I do.”
Gatlin made it more of race than many thought he could, staying ahead until the closing stages.
“They wanted an epic race in rain and they got it,” the American said.
If Bolt’s result was predictable, his demeanor was not.
At 26, he has dispensed with most of the showmanship that accompanied his fame. For big victories, he used to start celebrating well before the finish line. This time, he remained expressionless as he ran across the line, watching his performance on the giant screen in front of him.
It took him several minutes of understated celebrations before he unleashed the mighty “Lightning Bolt” pose that has become his global signature.
His winning time was almost irrelevant, 9.77 seconds — 0.19 seconds slower than his world record. Gatlin crossed second in 9.85 while Bolt’s teammate, Nesta Carter, took bronze in 9.95.
If Bolt did not produce a sense of theater himself, the elements did it for him. Lightning flashed over Luzhniki Stadium half an hour before the final, and it began pouring as the finalists entered the arena.
To the cheers of about 25,000 fans, the public address system started blaring Bob Marley’s classic “Three Little Birds.” Bolt was loosening his neck muscles to the lyrics, “Don’t worry, ‘bout a thing. ‘Cause every little thing is gonna be all right.”
It was for him. Not his opponents.