Bolt crossed the finish line in 19.78 seconds, but this was no stroll in the park.
No mugging for the cameras and no easing up before he crossed the finish line.
“I don’t need to prove anything else. What else can I do to prove to the world I am the greatest?” Bolt said.
“I am trying to be one of the greatest. Be among (Muhammad) Ali and Pele.
“I hope to be in that bracket after these Games.”
Canadian Andre de Grasse chased Bolt hard all the way, clocking 20.02 to add the 200m silver to his 100m bronze from earlier in the Games. Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre was third in 20.12.
Bolt had flagged the possibility of breaking his own world record of 19.19 in Rio but in the end he did not get close.
For a man who turns 30 on the day of the Rio closing ceremony, that should perhaps come as no surprise.
“I’m always happy for the win, but I wanted a faster time,” he said.
“I felt good, but when I came into the straight, my body wouldn’t respond to me.
“So I guess it’s just age and all the rounds that’s taken a toll.”
It was the slowest 200m winning time of any of Bolt’s three Olympic and four world championships triumphs, although a wet track following earlier rain was a factor.
Bolt and 2011 100m world champ Yohan Blake sat out the heats of the 4x100m relay on Thursday morning but the lesser lights got the job done in their absence, qualifying fifth fastest for the final on Friday night (early Saturday AEST).
The Jamaicans will need to go significantly quicker in the final than their heat time of 36.84s if Bolt is to pocket that ninth gold medal.
With the great man back in the line-up, they surely will.
The American women qualified for the women’s 4x100m relay final in unusual style.
The reigning Olympic champions dropped the baton and failed to finish their heat, before successfully appealing that Allyson Felix had been bumped during a handover.
They were given a second shot at qualifying in a solo re-run, with their time of 41.77s knocking China out of the final.
The United States continued to rack up the titles at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday.
Ashton Eaton equalled the Olympic record of 8893 points to claim a second straight decathlon title, Kerron Clement and Dalilah Muhammad did the 400m hurdles double and Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs went 1-2 in the men’s shotput.
The other title decided on Thursday went to Sara Kolak from Croatia in the women’s javelin.
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