In his wake the US champion drew a 21-year-old Londoner, Dwain Chambers, to a bronze medal he had hoped for but never expected, and a new personal best of 9.97sec, which re-established him as the second fastest European of all time behind Linford Christie.
"Praise the Lord!" Chambers said afterwards. "I'm only 21 and I've got a world medal. I can only get better when the Olympics come around because I will be a year faster and stronger."
Referring to his European silver medal last summer, he added: "I had to go one better than last year. I've always believed that I could be great runner because I'm a championship performer."
Chambers' estimation that Greene is "in a class of his own" was borne out by the events of the night. In the absence of his injured training partner, Ato Boldon, and Namibia's quadruple silver medallist Frankie Fredericks, who failed to start his semi-final, Greene's closest rival appeared to be Bruny Surin. The Canadian rose to the challenge, taking silver in 9.84, equal to the old world record held by his compatriot Donovan Bailey.
But the way in which Chambers - who is the world junior record holder - thrust his way into contention ahead of such talents as Obadele Thompson, the Commonwealth bronze medallist, and the second-rated American, Tim Harden, promises further riches in years to come. Last night's performance made him the youngest individual 100m medallist in the history of the event. Boldon was 17 days older when he took the same medal at the 1995 World Championships.
Jason Gardener, who followed Chambers into sub-10-second territory earlier this season, also reached the final, finishing seventh in 10.07sec. But Darren Campbell - the last of Britain's three young sprint musketeers - failed to secure one of the four qualifying places in his semi-final despite the field being reduced to five men. Cuba's Freddie Mayola and Namibia's Frankie Fredericks failed to start, and Australia's Matt Shirvington was disqualified. Campbell, however, finished last in 10.15sec.
It was a huge disappointment for the 24-year-old who won the European title a year ago. Another blow, too, for Linford Christie, who is here as a personal coach as he faces doping charges relating to the banned steroid nandrolone. Campbell is his protege, and Fredericks a friend and training partner.
Marion Jones secured the second gold medal for her household - following Saturday's shot putt victory by her husband C J Hunter - as she earned an expected 100m win over the competitors whom she has been beating with unfailing regularity on the grand prix circuit.
As her burly husband looked on, Jones - "Let's go!" he had roared as the runners came to their blocks - accelerated away from her compatriot Inger Miller to win in 10.70sec - the third fastest ever, and well inside the championship record of 10.76 she set two years ago.
It was one down, three to go for the beaming girl from California, who plans to add golds in the 200m, the long jump and either the 100 or 400m relay. Miller took silver in 10.79, and Ekaterina Thanou of Greece earned bronze in 10.84 in a race where the first five ran inside 11sec - the first time ever in this event.Reuse content