Triathlon World Cup in Hong Kong marred by anthem mix-up during medal ceremony

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25th March 2024 – (Hong Kong) Event organisers at the Triathlon World Cup in Hong Kong have issued an apology after a gaffe involving the national anthem occurred during the women’s medal ceremony, marking a moment of embarrassment.

British triathlete Sian Rainsley, who triumphed in the elite women’s race, was expecting the strains of “God Save the King” as she stood atop the podium. However, to her surprise and that of the attendees, the Spanish national anthem, “Marcha Real,” began to play.

The erroneous anthem aired for 40 seconds before an uneasy silence ensued for over two minutes. The ceremony then proceeded correctly with the British anthem, bringing relief to the ceremony’s proceedings.

Officials from the Triathlon Association of Hong Kong, China, expressed their sincere apologies for the mishap and have vowed to conduct an internal review to forestall any recurrence of such an incident.

Rainsley’s victory in Hong Kong is a significant milestone in her athletic journey, outpacing seasoned competitors such as American athletes Katie Zaferes and Kirsten Kasper. This marks her inaugural World Cup race win and positions her prominently within the Team GB Olympic selection discourse.

The 26-year-old British champion, who clinched a Youth Olympic Games silver medal in 2014, has made a remarkable comeback after her career was stalled by a severe ankle injury last year. The podium scene, which also featured Zaferes and Kasper in second and third places respectively, witnessed a blend of amusement and patience as the athletes awaited the rectification of the anthem error.

The organisers, in their formal statement, reiterated their regret over the incident: “The organiser sincerely apologises for the playing of the wrong national anthem during the women’s elite category award ceremony. The Spanish national anthem for the men’s elite group champion was played in error. Corrections were made immediately, and an apology has been extended to the affected winning athlete.”

The men’s competition saw Alberto Gonzalez Garcia of Spain celebrate his victory to the correct anthem, while his compatriot Antonio Serrat Seoane secured the runner-up spot, and Japan’s Asian Games champion, Kenji Nener, completed the podium.