Triathlete Diego Méntrida praised for act of sportsmanship after allowing rival to finish third

Some professional athletes say winning is everything, but not Diego Méntrida.

The Spanish triathlete has earned praise for an act of sportsmanship which saw him allow a rival to finish in third place at the end of a race.

Méntrida was trailing Britain’s James Teagle in the closing stages of the Santander Triathlon, only for Teagle to get confused when he saw a red banner that he thought marked the finish line

With Mentrida hot on his heels, the Briton then careered into barriers lining the course with spectators telling him to turn around.

Méntrida overtook his rival but stopped just short of the finish line. The pair shook hands as Teagle crossed the line first to take the final podium spot.

Footage of the incident has amassed millions of views on social media, with many lauding the 21-year-old for the act of sportsmanship.

Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, videos and features

“The real values of sport in a single gesture,” Liverpool’s Spanish goalkeeper Adrián wrote on Twitter, while former keeper Iker Casillas also praised Méntrida.

The act also garnered attention outside the sporting world.

“I love, love this story,” actor Will Smith said in a video on his Instagram account.

“I know it’s Sunday and all that but I cried, it made me cry. I just like integrity, this is integrity on full display. You’re my dude Diego, I appreciate you.”

Méntrida said he was humbled by the response he has received since the race, which took place on September 13.

“This is something that my parents and my Ecosport Triathlon group taught me since I was a kid,” he wrote on Instagram.

“In my opinion, this is something that should be considered as a typical situation.

“I never thought that something like this would reach so far and have so much impact across the media. But I’m proud to receive so much love.”

Race organizers decided to award Méntrida with an honorary third-place finish: “These gestures are what make organizing these events worth it. Congratulations, Diego,” a statement read.

Teagle told BBC Breakfast he had accepted he would finish fourth after making a “silly mistake” at the end of the race, only for his fellow competitor to stop short of the line.

“I suppose it just shows massive integrity and great sportsmanship and I think people have really taken it to heart,” said Teagle.

“It’s gone all over the world and it’s incredible just to see that and people valuing that sportsmanship.”

Weekly buzz