Johannesburg - The door has been opened for South Africa's André Olivier in the men's 800 metres at the IAAF World Championship in Moscow, which takes place from August 10-18.
"It will certainly be exciting.
"The difference between an athlete who runs 1:46.00 and one who runs 1:44.00 is negligible," Olivier said on Tuesday.
"In my opinion the playing field in Moscow will be totally level."
There was no clear-cut favourite for the race after all three medal winners at last year’s London Olympics were out of the race.
David Rudisha (Kenya), world and Olympic champion, as well as world record holder, was forced to withdraw with an injury.
Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos from Botswana, current World Students and World Junior champion, was also ruled out with an injury
Timothy Kitum, winner of the bronze medal in London, was unable to qualify during the Kenya trials.
Olivier, who had been in good form this season, was one of number of athletes with a realistic chance of medalling in Moscow.
The 23-year-old, who fractured a bone in his right foot in 2009 season, forcing him out of competition for almost two years, only resumed his running career in 2011.
Winning two of his six European races this season, Olivier also finished second on three occasions and settled for third only once.
His best time of 1:44.37 was a second slower than the current best time in the world of 1:43.27, held by Duane Solomon (US).
The 800m athletes compete in the heats on Saturday -- the opening day of the championships.
"The semi-finals will be the occasion where many a dream will come to an end.
"There will be absolutely no margin for error.
"It will be a case of do or die," Olivier said.
"I really want to win my semi-final or to finish second.
"If I am not able to do that, I will have to run a time of at least 1:44.00 to make it to the final.
"Once I have reached the final, I will not be too worried, because then anything is possible if you can only keep your cool."
In the absence of Rudisha, who simply ran from the front, challenging everybody else to keep up with him, the race tactics would be an unknown quantity.
Olivier, who also liked to run from the front, said the challenge for him would be to run the first 400 metres in 50.5 to 51.5 seconds.
"I feel comfortable at this pace.
"If the pace over the first 400 metres should be too fast, there could always be the danger of ‘dying’ over the last 100 metres.
"If the racing should be tactical, I would have to rely on my kick at the end to achieve a good result."
Olivier predicted 19-year-old Mohammad Aman of Ethiopia, who had won seven of his eight races, the two Americans -- Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds -- and the French runner, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, would be the runners to watch.
"Having said this, there are bound to be other runners who might also be capable of winning.
"It would not be wise to underestimate anybody.
"I reckon that there are at least 20 athletes who could be able to win."