By Nick Mulvenney
OSAKA - Estonia's Gerd Kanter grabbed world championship discus gold on Tuesday to hand Lithuania's double defending champion Virgilijus Alekna his first taste of defeat in two years.
A Baltic battle had been expected between the only to finalists to go over 70 metres this year but Alekna was carrying an injury Kanter proved a comfortable winner with his third throw of 68.94m.
"There will be a big party today, it is my day," the 28-year-old Kanter told reporters.
"Virgilijus is the best discus thrower ever and inspired me a lot in recent years. I think he will be back, you cannot count him out. It will be tough to beat him again at the Olympics."
Alekna, who also won gold at the last two Olympics and had not lost for 37 consecutive competitions going back to August 2005, finished fourth with a best throw of 65.24m.
It was the first time the 35-year-old had finished outside the top three since the Seville championships of 1999 when he also finished fourth.
"Finally I lost, there is nothing to do," said Alekna, adding that he had picked up the calf injury last week.
"Life goes on and the time to rehabilitate myself will come. I will try for that at the world finals in Stuttgart and for sure next year at Olympics."
Kanter, who owned the best throw of the year at 72.02 metres going into the final, looked the more at ease of the pair throughout the evening, opening with throws just either side of the 65 metre mark.
A huge roar when his third attempt soared towards the 70 metre tape indicated that he knew he had launched a medal-winning throw.
Still, he was not able to relax, remembering that he had also led in Helsinki two years ago until Alekna's final attempt.
Then, the big Lithuanian unleashed the first throw over 70 metres at the world championships to claim his second consecutive gold.
It was not to be on Tuesday, however, and Alekna's final effort just about kept in bounds at 63.75m and his dream of a third straight gold was gone.
Germany's Robert Harting took the silver medal with a throw of 66.68 metres, and Dutchman Rutger Smith threw 66.42 to add a bronze to the silver he won in the shot put at the 2005 world championships.
"I didn't suspect I would beat Alekna," Smith said. "He's not in the best shape. It's a shame because I still believe he's the best ever."