Showing no hint of the second-year blues, Australian Peter Bol has cruised into the semi-finals of the men's 800m at the world athletics championships in Eugene.
Bol first announced himself as a world-class competitor last year at the Tokyo Olympics when he twice broke the national record before finishing a gutsy fourth in the final.
He arrived in Eugene as a legitimate contender, a status only further confirmed by his impressive opening-round heat win on Wednesday.
The 30-year surged to the front with half a lap to go and eased to the line in one minute 45.50 seconds.
"When I saw I was world No.3 coming into the championships, it was like 'wow'," Bol told AAP.
"You realise you are in a good place.
"After last year, my manager always says that the second year is the hardest to back up and I think I've done it well, I've already broken the Australian record again.
"There's a lot more respect out there for sure."
American Donovan Brazier, the defending world champ, was eliminated in the opening round.
The 800m was thrown even more wide open with the withdrawal through injury of Briton Max Burgin, the fastest man in the world this year.
Joseph Deng, who preceded Bol as the Australian record holder, was another non-starter due to an Achilles tendon issue.
The semi-finals are on Thursday (Friday AEST).
Kelsey-Lee Barber stayed in the hunt for a second successive world javelin title with a solid qualifying display.
A second-round effort of 61.27m was always going to be good enough to secure a berth in Friday's final, with Japan's Haruka Kitaguchi topping the qualifying round with 64.32m.
Fellow Australian Mackenzie Little (59.06m) also snuck into the final but 2018 Commonwealth champ Kathryn Mitchell was eliminated.
"I just need to stand at the top of the runway with full belief in what I can achieve and that is to throw far, execute the process and the javelin will fly," Barber, who also won Olympic bronze last year in Tokyo, said.
"I've done it before and I'll trust that I can do it again.
"I love this atmosphere, I thrive on it and I'm ready for (the final on) Friday."
The opening round of the women's 5000m was pretty much a non-event for Australia.
National record holder Jessica Hull was a non-starter after testing positive to COVID-19 following her seventh-placed finish in the 1500m two days ago.
She is now in isolation at home in Portland.
On another hot day in Eugene, Natalie Rule only made it to the halfway stage of the opening heat of the 5000m before pulling out in clear distress.
Rose Davies was 15th in the other heat.
Alex Beck was eliminated in the men's 400m semis in 46.21, while Sarah Carli ran a season's best time of 55.57 but was also run out in the women's 400m hurdles semis.