In many quarters, the men's 400m was billed as a match up between the Americans and the French. With the form and the pedigree on the Americans' side it looked like it would be a one-sided affair.
The start was even, with Tyree WASHINGTON (USA), then Calvin HARRISON (USA) making moves down the back straight.
Around the bend, American Jerome YOUNG, out in lane six, made the biggest move. As they entered the final straight the three Americans were clear, with Young first passing Harrison, then Washington and running strongly for home.
Behind him it was a story of tiring Americans and a rapidly approaching Frenchmen. Harrison paid for an ambitious first 300m, wilting as he struggled down the stretch.
At the same time, French hopeful Marc RAQUIL was gaining fast on those ahead of him, having run very conservatively in the opening stages.
Young crossed the line to take the title in a time of 44.50s. Having had two placings just outside the medals (fifth 1997, fourth 1999) and relay success, this was his first individual title.
Washington, a bronze medallist way back in Athens in 1997, did just enough to ensure the silver and a USA one, two.
The minor placings were a blur, with Raquil in the thick of the mix. He clocked 44.79 to Washington's 44.77. This sliced .01 off his national record.
Confirmation of Raquil's medal winning effort drew an earth rumbling roar from the Parisien crowd.
Jamaican Michael BLACKWOOD who held his form down the straight was only one hundredth away in fourth.
The second Frenchman Leslie DJHONE also produced a lifetime best (44.83) and was only a breath away from the medals.
Harrison was struggling to the line in sixth, 44.96. African champion Eric MILAZAR (MRI) was seventh home in 45.17, with Alleyne FRANCIQUE (GRN) eighth, 45.48.
The American-French rivalry is sure to be reignited in Sunday's 4x400m relay.