Usain Bolt earned a triple-triple of sprint gold medals and world records Friday, an unprecedented Olympic feat that elevated him alongside Michael Phelps as the stars of the Beijing Games.
With his giant strides, he ran a lighting final bend that set anchor Asafa Powell on the way to a record 37.10 seconds in the 4x100 meters, chopping a massive .30 off the mark the United States had held for 16 years.
"Go Asafa!" Bolt shouted after handing over the baton, pointing Powell in the direction of a golden record. And his teammate did exactly that _ completing the only great run of his disappointing Olympics to turn reggae into the Olympic anthem of the celebrating Bird's Nest.
And Bolt, never at a loss for words, was not going to wait for IOC president Jacques Rogge to anoint the superlative of the Beijing Games.
"You can't explain the feeling you feel after the greatest Olympics ever," Bolt said.
And who to question him.
If Phelps won eight golds to Bolt's three, he was not perfect, missing a world record in one race. The 22-year-old Bolt was perfection itself, never even close to being challenged whenever he set foot on the track.
Bolt also became only the fourth man, and the first since Carl Lewis in 1984, to win all three Olympic sprint events.
Bolt had already set the world record of 9.69 in the 100 and 19.30 in the 200, but that funky Jamaican was aching for an encore.
And Powell, a former 100 world record holder who only finished fifth in the 100, provided it. He crossed the line almost a full second in front of silver medalists Trinidad and Tobago, which finished in 38.06. Japan took the bronze in 38.15.
"I said to Asafa, 'Can we do this?' And he was like, 'Don't worry, man, we got this one.'" Bolt said.
The loss of the world record made the great American sprint debacle complete, failing to get a single gold in six events.
If Bolt was again all about the shiny golden shoes, oversize celebrations and wiggling dances to reggae, Tirunesh Dibaba achieved a landmark almost as impressive in total serenity.
The Ethiopian claimed an unprecedented long-distance double, winning the 5,000 meters to achieve something Ethiopian greats like Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele have been unable to do.
In an intense battle with rival Meseret Defar, Dibaba kicked for home with 500 meters to go. Defar, the defending champion, just cracked.
Defar was even passed by Ethiopian-born Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey, who claimed her second silver after she was beaten by Dibaba in the 10,000, too.
Bekele is going for a similar double in the 5,000 on Saturday, after barely missing out four years ago.
Crossing the line, Dibaba timidly clenched her fists, briefly raised her arms in triumph and quickly turned around to console her rivals.
Just ahead of Bolt's triple, Jamaican sprinters finally proved they were fallible, however, botching the handover of the baton in the women's 4x100 relay they were overwhelmingly expected to win.
"I did what I was supposed to do, she did what she was supposed to do," said Kerron Stewart, who botched the handover with Sherone Simpson. "I guess it wasn't God's will."
Russia profited, unexpectedly adding another gold, and Belgium got its first medal of the Olympics when European champion Kim Gevaert followed close behind. Nigeria took bronze.
The United States was eliminated in the heats.
Maurren Higa Maggi earned Brazil a gold medal in the women's long jump.
The world indoor silver medalist led from the first round at 7.04 meters and it proved enough for gold.
World and defending Olympic champion Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia, who took silver in the triple jump, got another silver, finishing only one centimeter behind the Brazilian on her final attempt.
Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria took bronze, a bigger blessing than it seems.
She was only allowed into the final after Lyudmila Blonska was disqualified after failing a doping test in the heptathlon, where she had won silver.
"I'm shocked," Okagbare said. "It is the biggest miracle."
Carolina Kluft, the three-time world champion and 2004 Athens Olympics heptathlon champion, finished ninth.
Unlike Kluft, Bryan Clay is sticking with the multi-event test of power and speed which traditionally is called the battle to become "the world's greatest athlete."
The 2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2005 world champion won with 8,791 points.
Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus took silver with 8,551 points, and Leonel Suarez of Cuba was third with 8,527.
Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic, the reigning world and Olympic champion, finished sixth.
Dan O'Brien was the last U.S. athlete to win the Olympic decathlon, taking gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Steve Hooker won the pole vault to give Australia its first in track and field at the Beijing Olympics.
After winning with a vault of 5.90, he added an Olympic record at 5.96.
World indoor champion Yevgeniy Lukyanenko of Russia took silver at 5.85 and Denys Yurchenko of Ukraine got bronze.
Under a clear sky and increasingly hot sun with morning temperatures approaching 30 degrees C (85 degrees F), Alex Schwazer of Italy won the longest event on the program, the 50-kilometer walk.
With a break 10 kilometers from the finish, he pulled away from the leading group and held on to beat Jared Tallent of Australia, who won bronze in the 20K.
Denis Nizhegorodov of Russia, the silver medalist from the Athens Games and world record holder, took bronze.