Cuba's world record holder Dayron Robles won the 110m hurdles Olympic title Thursday, clocking 12.93 seconds -- the second fastest time in Olympic history.
The 21-year-old beat home two Americans, 2007 world bronze medalist David Payne (13.17sec) and American champion David Oliver (13.18sec).
Robles showed no nerves and was never challenged after rising from the blocks, making the absence of defending champion Liu Xiang even more marked -- and to a lesser extent two-time silver medalist Terrence Trammell.
Liu pulled out injured just before the first heats of the event on Monday.
"I'm ecstatic that I am Olympic champion. It's always been my dream.” said Robles, who has dominated the event this season in the absence of Liu.
"It's disappointing Liu Xiang is not here." Robles said. "When he's there, you can feel his presence. When he's on the track there's always a good time at the end of the race. We athletes never wish an injury upon others, all I can say is I salute him and I hope he'll get back soon.
"I am sure he will come back and that we will have a really good rivalry next year in the World Championships (in Berlin).
"For me it is special to be mentioned in the same breath as (Anier) Garcia, for he was a legendary athlete and inspired me in taking up the hurdles." Robles repeated the success of Cuban Garcia, who won the event in the Sydney Games in 2000.
He sailed effortlessly over the hurdles in the race while behind him Payne and Oliver had difficulty in not clipping them.
Even as Robles eased over the line the two Americans held onto their placings though Oliver, the only man to beat Robles this season, had to withstand a challenge from France's 2005 world champion Ladji Doucoure.
Payne was delighted to have added Olympic silver to his world bronze.
"What can I say? Persistence pays off," he said. "I feel great. I feel great. I wasn't 100 percent this year. I had a lot of setbacks.
"I wanted to stay up with Robles but he left us behind." Payne was full of praise for the young Cuban.
"He's amazing and could not be stopped. He is a phenomenon and I am just going to have to pull all my stuff together. One day very soon, I'm going to go with him and hopefully beat him," said the 26-year-old, who was experiencing his first major global championships.
Oliver, though, insisted he was satisfied with taking the bronze.
"I'm very happy with that. There were no surprises out there," said the 26-year-old.
"I got an Olympic medal so no complaints."