The purest test of athletic prowess had descended into a vein-popping spectacle of snarling beefcakes charging through a haze of testosterone and controversy.
The first man to cross the line in three of the previous five Olympic finals had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs - Ben Johnson after the 1988 final, Linford Christie and Justin Gatlin years later (they kept their medals).
Then came Bolt, a man fuelled by nothing more potent than chicken nuggets and yams. He smiled at the start line, he interacted with the crowd, and most importantly he ran faster than anyone thought possible.
In an event often decided by millimetres, Bolt embarrassed his 100m rivals, winning the final in a world record of 9.69 seconds that would have been faster had he not started celebrating some 15 metres before the line.
The 200m brought a yet more astonishing victory, breaking Michael Johnson's world record with a time of 19.30, two-thirds of a second ahead of silver medallist Shawn Crawford. Another world record fell in the 4x100m relay.
Bolt has won two Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, and goes to London as the undisputed star attraction.