A British triathlete has relived the disastrous moment he took a wrong turn just yards from the finish line before his Spanish rival stopped and let him claim third place.
Diego Méntrida was trailing British athlete James Teagle at the final stretch of the 2020 Santander Triathlon in Barcelona, Spain.
But Teagle mistook the direction of the course, allowing Méntrida to overtake him just metres from the finish line. Méntrida noticed Teagle’s mistake and stopped just before the finish line to let the British competitor pass him.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today Programme, Teagle hailed the ‘real integrity and great sportsmanship’ of Méntrida and said he thanked him over Instagram as the Covid-19 security arrangements at the race kept them apart.
On the last few minutes of the race, he said: ‘So it was the end of a two hour race and just before the video I take the wrong route because there is like a big red arch and I think that’s the finish line.
Teagle failed to turn the corner onto the final stretch of the race and hit one of the course markers. In the video, he throws his hands out in exasperation at the mistake, believing it had cost him third place in the Santander 2020 triathlon, which took place on September 13.
Méntrida managed to overtake Teagle at the last moment but noticed his competitor’s mistake soon after. Méntrida let Teagle pass him for third place and later said that ‘he deserved it’.
Méntrida stopped at the finish line in what online commentators have described as an incredible show of sportsmanship. Footballer Adrián San Miguel said the gesture exemplified ‘the real values of sport’.
Teagle shook his rival’s hand in gratitude as he took third place. Santander Triathlon later awarded both men a bronze medal and €300 (£274) prize money.
‘I keep running then I turn around about 50 metres down the wrong way and the crowd shouting ‘you’re going the wrong way’, I look back and see Diego just stop sprinting towards the finish line and then in the video you can see I crashed into the barrier, I think ‘well its all over’ to myself, then to my surprise Diego stops and lets me go over the line first which shows real integrity and great sportsmanship.’
‘It’s certainly very rare [what Diego did]. But I suppose that goes back to old-fashioned sportsmanship, I was 200 metres ahead of him before I made a mistake. I mean, I made a mistake so I wouldn’t have complained if he had gone over the line.
Teagle said he had spoken to his rival a ‘few times’ after the race but the Covid-19 security team had to keep them apart.
He added: ‘I thanked him and shook his hand at the race but that was about it, more on Instagram, I sent him a few messages saying ‘thanks that was incredible’.
Also appearing on the Today programme today Méntrida said he ‘expected to come in fourth place.’
He added: ‘So when I saw James took the wrong turn it was a little bit unexpected so I just look back and thought I had to stop. I really did think it a lot but, I stopped and let him pass.’
‘We always like to win but sometimes you have to do the right thing. In this case James deserved to be in third position so…’
The video shows Teagle failing to turn a corner and running into a fence outlining the spectators’ area less than 100 metres from the end of the race. He threw his hands out in exasperation as Méntrida overtook him.
But Méntrida looked back as he was running and noticed Teagle’s mistake.
He stopped just before the finish line and the two men shook hands as he let Teagle pass him.
‘He deserved it,’ Méntrida later said.
He wrote on Instagram: ‘This is something my parents and my club taught me since I was a child. In my view it should be a normal thing to do.’
Teagle shared a picture of the pair shaking hands at the finish line on Sunday, writing on Instagram that he missed the finish chute and accidentally ran an extra 50 metres.
James Teagle posted on Instagram a week after the generous gesture by Méntrida to explain what happened during the race. He said he misread the signage on the course and accidentally ran an extra 50 metres and then crashed into a barrier. By that time, Méntrida had already passed him, but the Spanish athlete stopped to let him finish in third place.
Footballer Adrián San Miguel said on Twitter that Méntrida’s gesture exemplified ‘the real values of sport’. Former Davis Cup Tennis Player Nitin Kirtane tweeted that it was ‘an amazing gesture’. ‘He is a true champion, this is sportsmanship …Salute to Diego he deserves all credit. ‘For me he is the Gold Medallist!’
‘By that point Diego Méntrida was 50m from the finish chute and we ended up sprinting for the line. I crashed into the barrier and thought it was over.’
He said Méntrida then ‘did the unexpected’.
‘Having seen what happened he stopped and allowed me to pass showing incredible sportsmanship and integrity!
‘Moral of the story is that sportsmanship is a highly regarded trait.’
Méntrida said he was ‘proud’ to receive so much praise for his actions.
Footballer Adrián San Miguel said on Twitter that Méntrida’s gesture exemplified ‘the real values of sport’.
Other sports fans on Twitter described the moment as ‘Webster’s Dictionary definition of sportsmanship’ and an act of ‘true class’.
They applauded Méntrida as doing ‘the right thing’ and an ‘honourable man’ who restored their faith in humanity.
Former Davis Cup Tennis Player Nitin Kirtane tweeted that it was ‘an amazing gesture’.
‘He is a true champion, this is sportsmanship … Salute to Diego he deserves all credit.
‘For me he is the Gold Medallist!’
Méntrida was awarded honorary third place by the triathlon organisers and the same €300 (£274) prize money as Teagle, according to Spanish newspaper El Mundo.