Beijing:Jamaica's 100 metres world record holder Usain Bolt and compatriot Asafa Powell reached the 100m Olympic final on Saturday but America's world champion in the event Tyson Gay sensationally failed to make the cut.
Bolt reached the final with a stunning time of 9.85 seconds - just one hundreth of a second outside 1996 champion Donovan Bailey's Games record.
Powell, former world record holder, also cruised through in 9.91sec but there was heartbreak for world champion Gay.
The American, who missed a month of action with a hamstring injury, finished in fifth place in his semi-final and failed to qualify."I'm pretty upset. It probably won't set in till I get back to the athletes village," said Gay who is also world champion at 200m.
"I may be in need of more races but that is no excuse. Perhaps I could have done more training and performed in more races.
"I just tried to keep my rhythm. My hamstring feels good. It is just one of those things."
Saturday's final will feature six Caribbean runners with two Americans -Darvis Patton, who edged Gay for fourth place in his semi, and Walter Dix -making up the rest of the field.
Even more impressive was that six of the eight finalists timed under 10secs.
The 21-year-old Bolt, who set the world record of 9.72sec in New York on May 31, crossed himself as he settled into his blocks but there was no need for divine guidance as he was always in control of the first semi-final.
American Olympics 'rookie' Dix took second to make the final on his first attempt in an impressive 9.95sec while the other two spots were taken by Marc Burns of Trinidad and Tobago and 2005 world silver medallist Michael Frater of Jamaica.
There were high-profile casualties in the shape of 2003 world champion Kim Collins, who finished fifth, and 2007 world silver medallist Derrick Atkins of the Bahamas, who was sixth.
Collins was philosophical about narrowly missing out on his third successive final.
"To be in the spot just behind the last qualifier is the worst place to be," said the 32-year-old from Saint Kitts and Nevis.
"I can't complain, I ran a season's best. It just wasn't to be. The final is wide open, it's up for anyone", he said.
Powell showed no nerves in his semi-final, despite his reputation for choking on the big occasion, and looked relaxed in coming home an easy winner.
Aside from Patton, the world silver medallist in the 200m in 2003, the other two spots for the final from the second semi were taken by young Trinidadian Richard Thompson and surprise package Churandy Martina of the Dutch Antilles.
Gay looked to be already struggling in the second round on Friday and while he gave it his best in the semi-final he was just bested by team-mate Patton for the fourth and final automatic qualifying spot in the final.
Gay, who will have the chance at a consolation gold in the 4x100m relay, apologised to his family and friends who were either watching from the stands or back in America.
"I feel that I let them down a bit," admitted the world champion who missed out on a possible place in the team for the 2004 Games in Athens because of injury in the trials.
"At the same time I gave my best and everyone knows I did. I just ran out of time."
"I pushed all the way to the finishing line. But my mechanics weren't what I wanted them to be. I couldn't get them where I wanted them to be.