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Watch: Incredible sportsmanship as Spanish triathlete allows wrong-turn rival to pass him on the finish line

A Spanish triathlete is being hailed for his sportsmanship after letting another competitor pass him at the finish line, after his rival took a wrong turn with the end in sight.

Diego Mentrida was trailing third-placed Englishman James Teagle near the end of the Santander Triathlon last week, when the latter headed for the barriers instead of staying on the race course.

The error allowed Mentrida to pass, but instead of taking advantage, Mentrida paused, allowing Teagle to take third spot.

Video of the incident has been seen millions of times, but the 21-year-old has played down his actions.

"This is something my parents and my club have taught me since I was a child," Mentrida wrote on Instagram.

"In my opinion it should be considered as a normal situation. I never thought that something like that would be so far reaching and would be repeated by so much media. But it makes me proud to receive so much affection."

He was awarded honorary third place, and $525 in prize money.

His rival Teagle praised Mentrida's actions, and poked fun at himself.

"Moral of the story is that sportsmanship is a highly regarded trait. And British kids pay attention in language class... or you may end up looking like a fool worldwide."