Many competitors consider the World Athletics Championships more prestigious than the Olympic Games, especially after the series of Olympic boycotts by the Africans in 1976, Soviets in 1980 and Americans in 1984.

When it comes to a choice between Rome in 1987 and Seoul in 1988, there is no question about travel preferences.

"I'd like to see them move the Olympics," said Larry Myricks, runner-up in the long jump at the USA/Mobil Outdoor Track and Field Championships here. "I'm not anxious to go over there, with all that unrest. And next year is likely to be my last go-round. I don't want to get shut out if they have to cancel them."

Duncan Atwood, the javelin winner here, was more direct: "I don't want to go over there and die for somebody else's cause."

Atwood was recently reinstated by the International Amateur Athletic Federation after serving an 18-month suspension because of a positive drug test.

"I had planned to take '86 off anyway, but not quite in the fashion I did," Atwood said. "I needed a break from competition. I think drug testing is great, but I don't know how well it works. A lot of people are learning their washout times {to avoid testing positive}. That's what I've been hearing, but I'm no scientist." Rosen Has Good Feelings

Mel Rosen, who will coach the U.S. men in the world championships, thinks the meet here produced a "super team" despite surprises that eliminated hurdler Tonie Campbell, high jumper Jimmy Howard and sprinter Floyd Heard.

"Overall, the people who made the team are in the top five in the country," Rosen said. "As long as you get the people in the top five, you're all right. Of course, we can't expect to win everything anymore. Six to 10 gold medals would be a good showing."

The women, without injured Mary Slaney and with Valerie Brisco limited to relay duty and Evelyn Ashford out of the 100, will have just heptathlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee in a favorite's role at Rome.

Track and Field Notes:

The only boos at the meet here greeted the splits for the men's 1,500-meter final. The race was so ridiculous that Jim Spivey's winning time of 3:43.66 was the slowest in the event since 1959.

Charles Marsala, the third-place finisher, has not yet met the qualifying standard for the world championships and he must do so by Aug. 16 to compete in Rome. . . .

The U.S. men's discus scene is a dismal one and John Powell, who captured his fifth straight title a week after his 40th birthday, made no claims of greatness.

"You have to set realistic goals," Powell said. "I have basically geared my training to compete against Americans. The rest of the world is out of my league." . . .

Carl Lewis and Ashford were highly critical of meet officials for failing to take the athletes' needs into consideration when the schedule was altered, apparently to create a better television package.

Officials of the sponsoring Athletics Congress and the local organizing committee vigorously denied the charge, insisting the athletes were given input and had not voiced objections before the meet. . . .

Butch Reynolds, the new sensation of the 400 meters, has one firm goal -- breaking Lee Evans' 400-meter record of 43.86, set in 1968.

The sole decoration on one wall of Reynolds' dormitory room at Ohio State is a hand-lettered sign that reads "Harry Reynolds, 43.85, World Record." . . .

Edwin Moses has had no difficulty rationalizing that the end of his streak was good not only for the event, but for him.

"I think a little suspense is good for the sport," Moses said. "It makes it more exciting than if I win all the time. This is what the sport needs, more big duels. It's a great sport and people need to see how exciting it can be.

"Losing kind of solidified my streak in people's minds. A lot of people were aware I'd been winning a lot, but they weren't aware of the extent of it."

Asked if he had begun a new streak here, Moses laughed and said, "The streak is at one, but there's no way I'm going to keep running until I'm 40."