This is the pageantry of the Super Bowl, the tension of the World Series and the individual pressure of The Masters. This is the most major of the major track meets, at least until the next Olympic year.
This is the 2011 Track & Field World Championships (Aug. 27-Sept. 4), coming to you from Daegu, South Korea.
If you've watched any of this summer's Diamond League track meets or if you caught the USA championships last month, then you know the punchline to almost every track story line ends in "Daegu."
For athletes in the U.S. and worldwide, everything they've done this year is aimed at the world championships. Every time a star skips a meet, every strategy used to combat an injury, every time and distance recorded, it's part of each individual's plan pace themselves to turn in a peak performance in Daegu. An career-best outdoor season can be deemed meaningless without medal at the worlds, one of the two meets (including the Olympics) at which legacies are made.
Here are 25 international athletes to watch at the world championships, with my list of 25 Team USA athletes to watch coming soon: