Usain Bolt destroyed the field on Saturday to win world 200m gold, running the fourth fastest time in history and earning redemption in South Korea after his shock 100m disqualification.
Bolt was slowest out of the blocks but quickly opened up a commanding lead, casting a single look at silver medallist Walter Dix on his outside as he came out of the bend before he drove for home.
Teeth clenched and eyes on the clock, Bolt flew down the home stretch, desperate to prove his doubters wrong and underline his position as the greatest sprinter on the planet. He clocked a world lead of 19.40 seconds.
Only Bolt, twice, and American track legend Michael Johnson have run faster.
Dix crossed the line in 19.70sec with European champion Christophe Lemaitre of France timing 19.80 to get bronze.
A fourth runner, Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, also went under 20sec in a stunning race.
Jamaican Olympic champion and defending world champion Bolt was his usual playful self in the moments before he settled, smoothing down his eyebrows and putting his fingers to his lips, motioning for the crowd to be quiet.
But amid tangible tension in Daegu, the starter’s gun signalled a dramatic change in mood as a determined Bolt pulled out all the stops.
“I feel great. I’m still the best,” said Bolt, who wrapped himself in the Jamaican flag after his win, blowing kisses to the crowd and soaking up the praise.
“There wasn’t really a point to prove,” added the 25-year-old. “I came here and did what I had to do. There wasn’t really big pressure at the start. I was a bit nervous but I always am. All I had to do was sit and wait at the start.
“I decided ‘why not come out and run as hard as possible’? I ran a good corner and I could have run much faster. Without a doubt I can keep on delivering. I made a mistake in the 100m but I would have won it.”
Bolt, the unchallenged star of world sprinting in recent years and the biggest name in athletics, was disqualified from the 100m final on Sunday after a false start.
The Jamaican was distraught after his catastrophic mistake, ripping off his singlet and holding his head in disbelief before leaving the track as team-mate Yohan Blake powered to gold.
But it was a different story on the penultimate night of action in Daegu.
“I am very happy and proud to have won here today. After the false start on Sunday I was extremely disappointed not to have given myself the chance to defend my 100m title,” said Bolt.
“The 200m represented a great opportunity for me to put it behind me and move on, and I’ve been determined to do so all week. The crowd was wonderful here tonight and I really enjoyed the moment.”
Dix said: “I wanted to bring the USA the gold but it wasn’t to be and I had to console myself with silver. He was just too strong.
“He and Lemaitre both ran great races and I have a lot of work to do which I will do now when I go back home.”
Lemaitre said: “I thought I had a chance. I saw Dix but I lost time on the bend. I said I have a chance of a medal and I said I must not let it slip. I said to myself I had the strength in my legs to run a good time.”
After storming to the 100m and 200m sprint double in then-world record times at the 2008 Olympics, Bolt matched his feat the following year at the Berlin worlds, setting new marks of 9.58 and 19.19sec.
Bolt himself admitted he is not in world record form this year but his win in South Korea confirms his status as the most marketable sportsman on the planet – and firm favourite to retain his Olympic titles in London next year.