Diego Mentrida was in fourth place and trailing James Teagle heading into the final stretch when Teagle accidentally headed for the barriers, allowing Mentrida to dart ahead and move within sight of a podium finish.
But once he had realised Teagle’s mistake, Mentrida, 21, paused to allow the Briton to retake his place in third just before the finish line.
Spain’s World Cup winning football captain Iker Casillas was among those who praised Mentrida’s selfless act on social media, but while the Spaniard appreciated the recognition, he reiterated it was the right thing to do.
“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.”
After the incident received global media coverage, race organisers decided to give Mentrida an honorary third place and award him 300 euros in prize money, the same amount Teagle had earned for coming third.
Teagle praised Mentrida for showing “incredible sportsmanship and integrity”, adding: “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.” Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge