The fastest man in the world and ultimate showman, the Jamaican is the face of athletics with his face plastered everywhere in London and his every move under great scrutiny.
But on a warm beautiful Thursday night at the Olympic Stadium, Kenyan David Lekuta Rudisha relegated the world’s most popular sportsman to second place.
Set to run his final an hour or so before Bolt, Rudisha produced the performance of the games to win gold and smash his own world record after clocking 1:40.91. The crowd roared him on and when he finally crossed the line, stood up to applaud and acknowledge the performance of the games.
Incredible achievement, is until you realise that he did it all by himself. The 800 metres record is one of the toughest marks to break with meticulous planning needed including a pacemaker to get the first lap right.
But here, with no pacemaker, and at an Olympic final, Rudisha put up an amazing performance becoming the first man to go under 1:41 in a race that saw seven of the eight athletes set new personal bests.
I stared at the monitors in disbelief. 1:40? All by himself? The press were stunned.
Put it another way, the time posted Andrew Osagie who was last here would have won gold at the last three Olympic finals! Such was the pace.
All year, Rudisha has spoken about putting up a performance that would put him among the pantheon of greats and boy did he do it.
The signs were there; none more so than at trials in Nairobi when he literally jogged to 1:42.12 in Nairobi. Two more sub 1:41s had the world buzzing but he would not be drawn to speak about it.
When I spoke to him at the start of the Olympics, off the camera, I jokingly asked him to blow the world away; “smash the world record in the final,” I implored and he laughed it off.
The gold was even more important to him as he finally bettered his father’s achievement (silver at the 1968 games in the 4x400m relay). It was his dad’s medal that inspired him to start running and it was only fitting that he would go one better.
The big question now is, where does he go from here?
At 23, he is the Olympic and World champion as well as world record holder. He holds six of the ten fastest times in the history of the distance and has been fastest in each of the last four years.
Where does he go from here? The man he replaced as Olympic champion Wilfred Bungei suggests that he should lower the record even further and ‘put it out reach.’
“He should go to a fast track like Rieti and try a high 1:39 or very low 1:40. That will put him up there with Bolt as one of the greatest and make sure that the record stays out of reach.”
That is in the long run though. For now; he can bask in the glory as the stand out star of the track and field at the 30th Olympiad.