RIO DE JANEIRO — If there were any doubts, it took less than 10 seconds — 9.81, to be exact — for Usain Bolt to erase them.
He is the Olympic champion once again.
On a muggy Sunday night in Rio, the Jamaican superstar won the signature event in track and field in a runaway and added this line to his already gleaming resume: first person to capture three straight 100-meter titles at the Olympics.
The 6-foot-5 sprinter/celebrity overcame his typically slow unfurling from the blocks, gradually worked up speed, caught American Justin Gatlin with 40 meters left and was celebrating — pointing at his chest with his thumb — before he crossed the finish line.
Bolt beat Gatlin, who was greeted by the fans with raucous boos, by .08 seconds. Andre de Grasse of Canada won the bronze.
A few minutes after the finish, Bolt was unlacing those now-famous gold spikes and taking selfies with the fans. Then, he turned his yellow hat backward, kneeled down and gave the crowd what it really wanted. It's that famous, arching "To the World Pose" that he debuted eight years ago in Beijing.
Chants of "Bolt, Bolt, Bolt" rang out from the near-capacity stadium. The show lived up to its billing.
No, this wasn't Bolt at his fastest — or even his best. The man who burst onto the scene with his hot-dogging world record eight years ago in Beijing turns 30 after these Olympics and says these will be his last.