Jamaica's Usain Bolt sprinted his way into the Olympic record books Sunday at the London Games, joining Carl Lewis as the only men to defend the title of "World's Fastest Man."
Bolt won his second straight gold in the men's 100 meters, breaking his own Olympic record to defeat countryman Yohan Blake. Bolt's successful defense of gold links him with Lewis, who won the event in 1984 and 1988 for the United States.
The world-record holder finished the race in 9.63 seconds, shaving .06 seconds off his winning time from the 2008 Beijing Games. Blake crossed the finish line .12 seconds later, while Justin Gatlin of the U.S. took bronze with a time of 9.79 seconds.
"It was wonderful," said Bolt. "I knew it was going to be like this. There wasn't a doubt in my mind it was going to be like this."
American Tyson Gay was fourth, just .01 seconds behind Gatlin. The U.S. also held the fifth spot with Ryan Bailey posting a time of 9.88 seconds.
In the months leading up to the games, many wondered if Bolt could beat Blake. After all, Blake won gold at last year's world championships, while Bolt bowed out of the competition due to a disqualification for a false start. The man known as "The Beast" also defeated Bolt in both the 100 and 200 at the Jamaican Olympic Trials.
In the end, the talk of Bolt's downfall was premature. Whether the doubts were rooted in Blake's emergence as a world-class sprinter or Bolt's balky back, clearly track and field's biggest star was not ready to step out of the spotlight just yet.
After the race, the always outspoken Bolt had words of encouragement for Blake, but also threw in some backhanded compliments for good measure.
"He works harder than me, but I knew what I needed to do and I have great talent. He will do better next time because he was a little bit stressed this time," Bolt said.
As is often the case, the 6-foot-5 Bolt began slow out of the gate, but made up the time easily. However, unlike his dominant victory in Beijing, Bolt didn't have a big enough lead to strike a pose while crossing the finish line.
This time he saved the celebration for after the race. Draping himself in the Jamaican flag, Bolt took a victory lap around Olympic Stadium as the crowd rained down chants of "Usain! Usain!"
For the American Gatlin, the bronze medal offers him a bit of redemption. The man who won gold in the 100 eight years ago in Athens missed the Beijing Games due to a doping scandal that led to him serving a four-year ban.
"It feels great to be back after eight years," said Gatlin. "Simply just to come back and use my God-given talent. I went out there and I did the best I could do."
The U.S. picked up a few more medals Sunday at the track, including gold for Sanya Richards-Ross' run in the women's 400 meters. Richards-Ross, the wife of Jacksonville Jaguars defensive back Aaron Ross, ran the race in 49.55 seconds to beat defending champion Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain by .15 seconds.
Richards-Ross picked up her first individual Olympic gold medal. She won bronze in the 400 four years ago in Beijing and also has two golds in the 1,600-meter relay.
"This win is impossible to describe," said Richards-Ross. "I worked so hard for that and I prepared for this moment over and over for the last four years."
DeeDee Trotter of the U.S. was just .02 seconds behind Ohuruogu for bronze.
Ohuruogu was trying to become only the second woman to win consecutive 400m golds. Marie-Jose Perec of France won two straight golds at the 1992 and 1996 Summer Games.
Gold was also awarded Sunday evening in three other events: the men's 3,000- meter steeplechase and hammer throw, and the women's triple jump.
Olga Rypakova won the triple jump, beating Colombia's Caterine Ibarguen. Rypakova, who placed fourth in triple jump four years ago in Beijing, claimed gold with a jump of 14.98 meters, edging Ibarguen by .18 meters. Ibarguen fell just short of winning Colombia's first Olympic gold medal.
Olha Saladuha of the Ukraine took bronze with a leap of 14.79 meters, just .01 meters less than Ibarguen.
Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya won the steeplechase, giving him his second gold medal in the event. Kemboi, who also won gold eight years ago in Athens, finished the race in 8 minutes, 18.56 seconds. France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, silver medalist in Beijing, was second again with a time of 8:19.08.
Abel Kiprop Mutai of Kenya won the bronze, crossing the finish line at 8:19.73. Americans Evan Jager and Donald Cabral finished sixth and eighth, respectively.
The hammer throw was won by Hungary's Krisztian Pars, who claimed gold with a throw of 80.59 meters. Slovenia's Primoz Kozmus, winner of gold in Beijing, was second with a toss of 79.36 meters and Japan's Koji Murofushi grabbed bronze.
The semifinals of the men's 400m were also held on Sunday and double amputee Oscar Pistorius of South Africa was eliminated from medal contention after finishing last in his heat. The 25-year-old Pistorius is the first man to compete in both the Summer and Paralympic Games. He still has a shot at medaling in London, as he's expected to run in the men's 1,600-meter relay later in the week.
Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago had the fastest time of the 400 semis, completing the race in 44.58 seconds. No Americans qualified for the final race.
In the first round of heats for the women's 400m hurdles, the U.S. saw all three of its entrants advance to Monday's semifinal round, including Lashinda Demus, last year's world champion, who had the fifth-fastest time with a run of 54.60 seconds.
Teammate Georganne Moline was .29 seconds ahead of Demus in fourth, just .41 seconds behind top qualifier Natalya Antyukh of Russia. T'Erea Brown of the U.S. qualified in seventh place.
In the men's 1,500m semifinals, both Matthew Centrowitz and Leonel Manzano of the U.S. qualified for Tuesday's final.
The U.S. also had three high jumpers -- Erik Kynard, Jesse Williams and Jamie Nieto -- move past the qualification round. Canada's Derek Drouin and Michael Mason also earned places in Tuesday's finals.