Surfing ace Casugay first Filipino to receive act of fair play award
For his lifesaving act of heroism during last year’s Southeast Asian Games, Philippine surfing ace Roger Casugay will receive the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin Act of Fair Play Award from the Comite International du Fair-Play (CIFP, or International Fair Play Committee)—a recognition that will be bestowed on a Filipino for the first time.
Jose Raul Canlas, United Philippine Surfing Association (Upsa) president, broke this news, with Casugay to be honored on Oct. 27—the worldwide health situation permitting—during the Sportel Gala in Monaco.
Since 1964, The CIFP has been giving out the award annually to athletes who exemplify the values of fair play with Italian bobsled competitor, Eugenio Monti, for his remarkable act in the Innsbruck Winter Games in 1964, the first recipient.
“It just shows that an act of kindness goes a long, long way. It’s nice that a Filipino is recognized this way,” Canlas, the renowned orthopedic surgeon, told the Inquirer.
Casugay’s gallant effort was widely acclaimed when he saved Arip Nurhidayat of Indonesia from drowning during the longboard semifinals of the 30th SEA Games held in San Juan, La Union, on Dec. 6, 2019, after the Indonesian was caught in a wicked wave and his leash broke.
Casugay, who hails from San Fernando, La Union, risked his chance to win the longboard gold medal with his heroic deed. The Filipino eventually won his rematch against Nurhidayat and defeated countryman Rogelio Esquievel for the gold with a score of 14.50-14.20.
“We are very proud of Roger because he has truly exemplified the true meaning of being a Filipino and a sportsman,” Philippine Sports Commission Chair William Ramirez said.
The CIFP, according to Canlas, is ready to shoulder the flight and hotel expenses of Casugay going to Monaco.
“This is big and we really need something like this award to perk up the Filipino spirit in this time of the pandemic,” Canlas said.
The International Surfing Association, through its membership and development manager Alex Reynolds, informed the Upsa on Tuesday of Casugay’s achievement.
Monti’s act was lending a part of his own bobsled to Britons Tony Nash and his partner, who went on to win the gold of their event in record time.
Casugay will join an elite company of winners like Sergey Bubka (athletics), Miguel Indurain (cycling), Sir Bobby Charlton (football), Wayne Gretzky (ice hockey), Stefan Edberg and Pete Sampras (tennis) and L’Equipe (newspaper), to name a few.
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