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Usain Bolt smashed his own 100-meter world record with a scintillating time of 9.58 seconds to win the final yesterday at the Athletics World Championships.

The stunning performance beat the 9.69 mark he set winning gold at last year's Beijing Olympics, and took the race into a time zone hardly imagined before the Jamaican's arrival on the scene.

American Tyson Gay, the 2007 world champion, finished second at 9.71, the second-fastest time ever before yesterday's fireworks, and Jamaican Asafa Powell claimed bronze at 9.84.

"It's a great time but I felt good in myself," Bolt said. "I knew it wasn't going to be an easy race but I did what I had to do."

Bolt, who false-started in the semifinal, made a flying getaway in the final and was clear by 20 meters.

He crossed the line watching the clock before blowing kisses to the crowd, hugging his friend Powell and completing a lap of honor cheered on by some 70,000 fans at Olympic stadium.

In Beijing, Bolt was coasting after 70 meters, but on the deep indigo blue track in Berlin, Gay pushed him as far as he could - to no avail.

Gay stayed with him over the first part of the race, but once Bolt unfurled his huge stride, there was hardly any contest.

"I put everything into it. But I came in second," Gay said. "I can definitely run faster."

Bolt glanced quickly to his right at 90 meters to check on Gay, then left at the scoreboard as he crossed the line, pounding his chest when he saw the record time flash up.

Powell summed up his countryman's achievement with one word: "Awesome."