at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
In the top tier of the stadium, just where the track starts to turn into the long corner before the final straight, Oscar Pistorius had a fan club from his Italian base in Gemona. “Make it happen Oscar. Pistorius a Gemona simpri a manete.”
The Italian, I was assured by Daryl Impey, the South African Olympic cyclist, could be translated loosely as “Pistorius and Gemona, always going full gas”. He went full gas on Sunday night, but it was just not enough on a night that he was feted by the 80 000 here, before and after he had run. He came last in his heat, running a second slower than his qualification time in the heats with a 46,54-second run.
He would not be happy with that as his aim had been to set a personal best, perhaps breaking the 45-second barrier. But his initial goal, making the semi-final, had been done, and afterwards the world champion, Kirani James from Grenada asking for his name tag.
It was a mark of respect for the South African, and each and every one of those who had run against him in the semi-final came up to shake his hand and hug him.
Then he looked up and the crowd went wild for him once again.
Pistorius is beginning to get the feel of the Olympic track, which will stand him in good stead ahead of the 4x400m relay when the qualification for that event starts on Thursday. “It’s a fast track,” he said, “but it’s made faster by the crowd.
“You cannot help but want to run for the people here. Every day I take part I want to do my absolute best for myself and to represent my country to the best of my abilities.”
It has been less than 24 hours since Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah had left the Olympic Stadium in a state, reducing them to a puddle of happy tears and heart-bursting joy.
The mention of their names by the stadium announcer was enough to kick off more celebration from the crowd; showing repeats of their final runs down the final straight of the big screens on either side of the stadium had them in spasms of uncontrollable happiness.
It was on that final straight that the big event of the night and, the British colonisation of Super Saturday notwithstanding, the athletics meet.
Had Usain Bolt been playing possum?
Was the Beast, Yohan Blake, about to repeat his victory over Bolt in the Jamaican Olympic trials?
Did Asafa Powell have an extra kick?
And what of Tyson Gay, the American?
Jamaica’s Bolt sealed the legendary status he so craves after sprinting to a convincing victory in the men’s Olympic 100m to retain his title late last night.
The 25-year-old world record holder turned on the after-burners at 60m to clock an Olympic record of 9,63sec, the second fastest time in history.
Jamaican compatriot and training partner Blake, long tipped as Bolt’s successor as the fastest man in the world, claimed silver after equalling his personal best of 9,75sec.
American 2004 Olympic gold medallist Gatlin completed his remarkable comeback from a four-year doping ban by taking the bronze medal in a personal best of 9.79sec.
They had gone full gas.
Pistorius knows he can go harder.
Full gas is not far away.