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Usain Bolt first to capture three straight 100-meter titles at the Olympics

Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates as he crosses the line to win gold in the men's 100-meter final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016.

Lee Jin-man, AP

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.

Lately, Gatlin is the only one who's been remotely close to keeping up to Bolt. He nearly beat Bolt during the 100 final at the world championships in Beijing last August, but faltered at the end.

"A win or a loss -- they're all lessons you learn to become a stronger athlete, a stronger human, the next time around," Gatlin said.

With his doping past, Gatlin has been portrayed as the villain in his rivalry with Bolt, which has become track's version of "Good vs. Evil." He doesn't care what anyone thinks.

"I've worked hard like everybody else," Gatlin said. "I get tested like everyone else. I'm back here. I believe in the system. I hope everybody else believes in the system, too."