This wasn't a scene the Americans were hoping to see again.
BERLIN — This wasn't a scene the Americans were hoping to see again.
The setting shifted, yet the world championship results played out eerily similar to the Beijing Olympics.
Usain Bolt still can't be beat, the U.S. 400 relay teams still struggle to work the baton around the track and the Jamaicans remain atop the sprint rivalry.
Sure, the Americans won the medal count, just like last summer, but the Jamaicans got all the buzz.
Bolt electrified the world again, improving his world records in the 100 and 200. With his antics and outgoing personality, the fun-loving runner dazzled the Olympic Stadium audience.
He also showed just how big of gap there is in sprinting these days.
Even when Bolt went all out — grunting and clenching his teeth on his way to a 19.19 in the 200 — there looked to be more in his tank.
How low can that mark go? No telling.
"I'm just waiting for the lights to flash 'game over,' 'cause I felt like I was in a video game," U.S. sprinter Shawn Crawford said after the 200.
Bolt's in a class by himself. He's elevated track, giving it a "did you see that?" element.
"This is an exceptional athlete that comes around once in a generation," said Doug Logan, the CEO of USA Track and Field. "He's great for Jamaica, great for the sport, great for the U.S."
For the United States?
"Keeps us from getting complacent," Logan said. "Our goal is to not allow him to joke his way through the last 10 meters. Our goal is to keep that smile off his face in the last 10 meters, to have him think he has somebody close and is going to chase him."
Chasing seems to be the only option against Bolt.
Tyson Gay tried to keep up in the 100, setting an American mark even, but finished second as Bolt rocketed to a 9.58.
Bolt's only real rival is the clock as he erases chunks of time that normally take years to break.
"The good side is he's bringing people in to track and field that traditionally would not have watched the sport," former sprint star Michael Johnson said. "On the other hand, I've said for years, to talk about worlds record, world records, world records — that's not what this sport is about. It won't build itself on world records.
"The same thing is the case when everybody knows who's going to win the race already. It becomes a sideshow. It loses some interest."
The same might be said of the rivalry between the U.S. and the Jamaicans in the sprint events.
Once again, the Jamaicans trumped the Americans, winning five of the six sprint events. The streak was interrupted only when Allyson Felix won her third straight world title in the 200.
Even so, Logan doesn't think the difference between the two nations is as great as it appears.
"If you take (Bolt) out of the equation, I think we're McDonald's and Burger King, Coke and Pepsi," Logan said. "We'll find a way. We're not laying down. We'll come to run."
There's room for improvement.
The Americans continue to struggle in the sprint relays. The men were disqualified in Berlin for making an exchange outside the allowable zone; then the women didn't finish after Muna Lee pulled up with a hamstring injury.
In Beijing, both relay teams didn't advance after fumbling the baton.
Following Beijing, Logan made it his mission to develop a pipeline at the grassroots level to groom rising stars. It was part of his "Project 30" initiative, a plan designed to propel the United States toward the goal of winning 30 medals at the 2012 London Olympics.
In Berlin, the Americans captured 22 medals, 10 gold. Yet at the 2007 worlds in Osaka, Japan, the team won 26 total medals.
Some highlights from the championships included:
— Dwight Phillips and Brittney Reese sweeping the long jump titles in the stadium where Jesse Owens memorably won four gold medals.
— Trey Hardee taking the decathlon title.
— Sanya Richards and LaShawn Merritt each winning the 400.
— Kerron Clement winning another world title in the 400 hurdles.
— Christian Cantwell joining Adam Nelson (2005) and Reese Hoffa (2007) as a world shot put champion.
— The men's and women's 1,600 relay teams closing out the competition with easy wins.
Still waiting to be discovered is the next generation of stars.
Just wait, says Logan.
"To take a young team with silver-dollar eyes and place people in the finals, that is the encouraging sign," Logan said. "People don't come on the international scene and immediately go to that top step of the podium. There's a process, and I'm feeling pretty good about it.
"We'll hold our heads high when we go home."