It was the last corner on the 2020 Triathlon in the northern Spanish city of Santander on September 13. British competitor James Teagle, who was in third place, missed the bend and ran into one of the metal barriers lining the route, having become disorientated by the signage at the final meters of the race. Diego Méntrida, a 21-year-old Madrileño, had been close to his competitor during the final stage, just a second behind, but on seeing his error decided not to take advantage of it, letting the Briton cross the line before him – in the process giving up what could have been the first podium of his career.
Seeing him make the mistake, I unconsciously stopped myself. He deserved itSpanish triathlete Diego Méntrida
“Seeing him make the mistake, I unconsciously stopped myself,” the Spanish triathlete explained after the race. “He deserved it,” he added.
His rival was not just anyone – Teagle is a promising up-and-comer in the sport in his native country, having finished third in the Alanya ETU Sprint Triathlon European Cup, among other strong performances.
Diego Méntrida, meanwhile, has only been competing for a year in the sub-23 category in the Ecoesport club in the Madrid municipality of Alcobendas, an activity that he combines with his studies in sports science and physiotherapy.
The coronavirus pandemic, however, interrupted his strong recent record, meaning that he was not able to attend races. Despite this, he has continued to gain relevance during the lockdown thanks to his good results in virtual events organized via the Zwift application, a multiplayer program that allows cyclists from all over the world to compete in real stages without leaving their homes.
After the sportsmanlike gesture in Santander, the two triathletes will compete together once more next week, at the Bilbao triathlon, also in northern Spain, and which will be held on September 26.
A similar sporting gesture
Back in 2012, another Spanish athlete, Iván Fernández Anaya, helped a Kenyan competitor across the finish line to win the race during a cross-country race in Burlada, Navarre. Abel Mutai had stopped 10 meters before the finish, thinking he had already crossed the line. Fernández Anaya quickly caught up with him, but instead of exploiting Mutai’s mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, he stayed behind and, using gestures, guided the Kenyan to the line and let him cross first.
English version by Simon Hunter.