The American made the largest single improvement in the record since electronic timing was introduced to the sport in the Sixties, slicing five hundredths of a second off the mark set three years ago by the Canadian runner Donovan Bailey.
He also matched the time clocked by Ben Johnson at the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988. The Canadian subsequently tested positive for steroids, lost his gold medal and had his time erased from the record books.
Greene was pushed to his remarkable performance by the presence of the world's best sprinters, in a race in which the first three finishers broke 10 seconds.
"I expected it," Greene said as he acknowledged a standing ovation at the stadium built to stage the 2004 Olympics. "This is only the beginning."
For Johnson, running 9.79sec proved to be the end.
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