It's not a household phrase like ''The Olympics.'' But the World Track and Field Championships which just concluded in Helsinki may be even better, athletically speaking. Qualifying entry standards are higher for this highlight of the outdoor season for international track and field performers.
That is what makes Carl Lewis's accomplishment particularly dazzling. Lewis, who runs with blazing speed and extraordinary power, won three gold medals. He finished first in the 100-meter run and the long jump, and anchored the four-man American team which won the 400-meter relay race in world record time.
Lewis was not the only winner of special note. Czechoslovakia's Jarmila Kratochvilova won two firsts, in the women's 400- and 800-meter races; to do so, she had to run an astonishing seven races in two days, between the qualifying heats and the finals of the two events.
And Lewis's distance-running teammate Mary Decker, after several years of disappointment against Soviet runners, won the 3,000-meter race with a determined sprint at the finish.
Congratulations to them all - and to all other competitors. By their participation they have proven they are world-class performers.