VILNIUS - Baltic athletes have swept at least one discipline at the 2005 World Athletic Championships 's discus. During a neck and neck competition, both Gerd Kanter of Estonia and Virgilius Alekna of Lithuania saw the glimmer of gold. In the end, however, the medal went to Alenka with a throw of 70.17 meters, a Championship record that sent his Baltic counterpart home with silver.
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus personally congratulated Alekna, a two-time Olympic discus champion, on his Aug. 7 victory in Helsinki.
"This is not just a victory of yours, but also an inspiring example for young people," Adamkus said during a telephone conversation with the athlete.
Alekna's gold-medal triumph could be compared with the Lithuanian basketball team's European Championship victory in 1937, the president added.
"Your determination, will and excellence are of priceless value. This will encourage the young generation to strive for the results you demonstrated yesterday. All of Lithuania is proud of you," said Adamkus.
Alekna, 33, defended his title as World Champion on his sixth, and last attempt.
The Lithuanian assumed the lead early on, with a third-round throw of 68.10 meters. But then Kanter, cheered on by neighboring Finns, overtook him with 68.57 meters in the next round.
Alekna fouled in round five, nearly sealing Estonia's hopes for a Championship gold. This dream was dashed on the final throw when Alekna flung his discus a magnificent 70.17 meters, leaving Kanter 1.60 meters behind.
Helsinki marked Alekna's 16th consecutive discus victory. The Lithuanian won Olympic gold in Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, the World Champion title in 2003 and the World Runner-up title in 1997 and 2001.
Germany's Michael Mollenbeck took bronze with 65.95 meters, and Aleksander Tammert of Estonia threw 64.84 meters to finish fourth.
Estonian President Arnold Ruutel took time off his official visit to Helsinki to attend the Championship's opening ceremonies. Ruutel later congratulated both Kanter and Tammert at a reception in the Estonian Embassy in Helsinki on Aug. 8.
The World Athletic Championships will continue until Aug. 14.