For more than a decade it was all about one man, Usain Bolt was the only show in town.
In 11 global championships the fastest ever human won 22 sprint medals – only three of which were not gold.
In Qatar today the first Bolt-free competition since 2003 gets underway amid the air conditioning ducts of Doha’s Khalifa Stadium.
Interest in athletics might have dipped significantly since the king abdicated in London two years ago, but the opportunity for this generation of male sprinters has never been greater.
Tomorrow, in temperatures expected to nudge 40 degrees outside the controlled climate in which the athletes will perform, the men’s 100 metres gold medal will be decided.
For all but Justin Gatlin, at 37 incredibly the reigning champion, it will be the first global champs in which the quickest athletes in all of sport can dismiss the Bolt factor.
Gatlin, who competed pre-Bolt, and Christian Coleman beat the Jamaican to the top steps of the podium in 2017; Yohan Blake claimed world gold in 2011 when Bolt false-started in Daegu. The rest have known only his rear view.
“Seize the moment, that is my advice,” said Darren Campbell, the last Briton to win a world sprint medal before Bolt rocked up.
“You have to grab your opportunity while it’s there. Don’t hold back. Forget the expectation and the fear. Believe in yourselves.
“There’s no certainty of anybody winning this which means everybody stands on the line under pressure. Stay calm and focus.”
Coleman starts as favourite despite coming into the champs under a cloud having missed three tests and effectively avoided a ban on a technicality.
But British star Zharnel Hughes insists the American is not unbeatable and has big plans of his own.
“A lot can change for me in these championships,” he said. “I could come back with the gold medal, possibly break the British record, I can’t put limits on it.”
Gemili, mercifully fit after years of injury, takes his marks with Campbell’s words ringing in his ears.
The former Chelsea footballer said: “Darren said to me many years ago, ‘It doesn’t matter how fast you run on the circuit, what matters is what happens at championships’.
“I have always tried to do my best performances at the champs and I feel I can go and keep that up.”
Only Blake will have Bolt in his head when the competition gets underway. The pair used to train together but the younger man took a dim view of Bolt recently criticising Jamaica’s sprinters.
“When I was around I think the motivation was there and we worked hard and the level was high,” Bolt was quoted as saying. “But now that I have left the sport, I feel like it has dropped.”
Blake said: “I remember those quotes. He said something particular which I lose all respect for him.”