He had kept putting on the show, the poses and finger movements, the miming a deejay spinning a record, the pose that looked like a lightning bolt, to play on his name, but actually came from a Jamaican tourism campaign called "To Di World." It was a welcome to Jamaica, an invitation to share his world.
He won the 100 meters in 9.63 seconds, faster than the Olympic and then-world record of 9.69 he set in 2008. Yes, it was slower than the current world record (9.58) Bolt set at the 2009 world championships, but that made no difference.
The point was Bolt had done something else remarkable, becoming the first man in Olympic history to cross the 100 finish line first twice in a row. Carl Lewis of the United States has consecutive gold medals in the event, but the second (1988) came after Canada's Ben Johnson was busted for doping.
"He is the Michael Phelps of our sport," Justin Gatlin said.
Gatlin was the 2004 Olympic champion. Eight years later, having missed four for a doping suspension, he is just one of those vainly chasing Bolt.
Gatlin ran a personal best 9.79 seconds for the bronze medal. Yohan Blake of Jamaica, who won last year's world title when Bolt was disqualified for a false start, ran a personal best 9.75 for the silver.
"There is no doubt he is the greatest sprinter of all time now," said Richard Thompson of Trinidad & Tobago, seventh Sunday, second to Bolt in 2008. "After seeing him today in the 100, he is definitely going to do something nasty in the 200 as well.
"It is difficult being in the same era as him. But he has done a lot for the sport. A lot of people who don't know anything about track and field look at it just to see him."
Truth be told, he is the sport, the man whose talent and joy helped track and field drag itself from the morass of the doping scandals that brought down stars like Gatlin and Marion Jones. He knows what crowds want and gives it to them, winning the big events and providing the antics that enliven the spectacle of races so short it is hard to appreciate them without the benefit of replay.
If Bolt wins the 200 Thursday night, he will be the only person ever to win both sprints in consecutive Olympics. And he will achieve the stature that has been his expressed goal for several years.
"Then I will consider myself a legend," Bolt said.
Bolt came into these Olympics with a cranky back and balky hamstrings. He had lost to Blake, his training partner and protégé, in both the 100 and the 200 at the Jamaican Olympic trials in June. He seemed to have lost his dominance.
Then he took command of the 100 where he always had, midway through the race. And he blew apart what would turn out to be the fastest bunch of followers in Olympic history. On Sunday, four ran faster than Thompson's second-place time of 2008.
"It really means a lot because a lot of people doubted me," Bolt said. "A lot of people were saying I wasn't going to win, that I didn't look good. It was even greater to defend my title, to show the world I'm still the No. 1, I'm still the best. That's what I do. I show up on the day."
He did not notice that someone threw a beer bottle behind him on the track as the runners took the set position. He did not notice a scuffle in the stands, when one man reportedly restrained another who was trying to run on the track.
"For me it was all about just reacting and executing my first 30 meters, because I knew my last 50 meters are the best part of my race," he said. "I just ran, that's all."
It often looks that simple in the 100 meters. But there are at least five distinct pieces of the race, the start, the drive phase, transition, the peak of acceleration and the attempt to minimize the deceleration at the end.
Bolt's coach, Glen Mills, had told him not to worry about his usual slow starts, the downside of trying to extricate a 6-foot, 5-inch body from the blocks. When he hit one of those starts perfectly, in the 200 meters at the world championships, Bolt ran 19.19, shredding the world record of 19.30 he had set in the event at the 2008 Olympics.
Bolt added a new twist Sunday night. After his victory lap, he did a somersault.
"He is a showman," Gatlin said.
Who showed what happens when you tug on Superman's cape.