Time stood still in the Birds Nest last night. The clock at first registered 9.68sec just as Usain Bolt was hurtling across the finishing line and heading with jet-propelled shoes towards the stands on the far side of the track. When it was adjusted to a mere 9.69sec, in the interests of modesty, 91,000 people still rubbed their eyes in astonishment not just at the new world record time but at the fact that the new Olympic champion was showboating 10m before the finish. Had he pulled out all the stops, the clock would have cried out for mercy.
There were conflicting images of this memorable and almost mystical night. One was of the two other Jamaicans in the field, Michael Frater and Asafa Powell, fifth and sixth respectively, standing shoulder to shoulder looking up in bewilderment at the big screen, first at the times and then at the replay of the fastest 100m in history, in which they had barely played bit parts. In the meantime, the new champion was cavorting with a legion of Jamaican fans 100m away.