It is a curious fact that no male world champion of 1991 won gold in Barcelona the following year; whether this is a statistical quirk or a mark of the new order in an increasingly crowded season remains to be seen.
Whatever the case, several of the world's leading athletes have something to prove, or reaffirm, at this year's event in Stuttgart from 14 to 22 August.
Sergei Bubka, three times world pole vault champion, needs to add a fourth title to regain the stock he lost with his failure in Barcelona.
Colin Jackson, Britain's leading 110 metre hurdler, is another who will enter the year hungry after Olympic disappointment. Jackson, who is now training in Australia with Linford Christie, will provide himself with an early indication of form in the world indoor championships in Toronto (12 to 14 March).
Whether Jackson's Canadian friend and house- mate, Mark McKoy, who won the title for which the Welshman was favourite in Barcelona, will compete against him on home ground is not yet certain.
Christie's involvement in Toronto is also in doubt. For him, Stuttgart - and the one significant title he has not yet won - is all. Or nearly all. The question of his meeting the Olympic champion of 1984 and 1988, Carl Lewis, was much discussed after his 100m victory in Barcelona. But Christie has played such talk down, and it may be that he will wait until Stuttgart, or after, to meet the American.
Lewis may encounter an equally testing challenge in Germany from his US colleague, Mike Powell, the world long jump champion, who will seek redress after his defeat by three centimetres in the Olympic final.
Another world champion for whom the Barcelona experience proved frustrating, Liz McColgan, has chosen not to take an early opportunity to gain a measure of revenge against two of the women who beat her in the Olympic 10,000m final, the gold and silver medallists, Derartu Tulu and Elaine Meyer; they run a cross-country at Durham on Saturday.
McColgan, who will seek to retain her 10,000m title in Stuttgart, is preparing first for the London Marathon on 18 April, although she has indicated that she is willing to run for Britain in the World Cross-Country Championships on 28 March at Amorebieta, Spain.
The Zurich grand prix meeting, otherwise known as the seven-hour Olympics, takes place on 4 August. Crystal Palace plays an unusually full role in the European circuit, adding the grand prix final on 23 September to its customary meeting on 23 July.
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