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Surfing hero Roger Casugay to receive Fair Play award from international body

Roger Casugay will receive an international award for his heroic deed in the SEA Games. PSC (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The whole world has already been made aware of what Filipino surfer Roger Casugay did on Dec. 3.

Seeing his Indonesian opponent Arip Nurdihayat getting ravaged by the strong waves of San Juan, La Union made even worse by Typhoon "Tisoy", Casugay passed up on a chance to break away in their Southeast Asian Games men's longboard race, braved the waves, and saved him from possibly drowning.

Now, an international organization recognizing heroic acts by athletes is set to commend Casugay.

The International Fair Play Committee on Tuesday named the SEA Games gold medalist the winner of the Pierre de Coubertin Act of Fair Play Award.

The International Surfing Association. the global governing group for surfing, relayed the news to the United Philippine Surfing Association.

"It is nice to recognize an athlete not only for his athletic skills but also for his humanity," said Raul Canlas, the president of the UPSA, through a statement.

The renowned sports doctor added that this feat would not be possible if the inaugural SEA Games surfing event did not happen at all last year.

"Holding surfing during the Southeast Asian Games is a milestone event. It paved the way for the ISA to recognize the region and allowed Roger to be also recognized," Canlas added.

For his part, Butch Ramirez, the chef de mission for the Philippine team in last year's games, is happy for Canlas' feat.

“We are very proud of Roger because he has truly exemplified the true meaning of being a Filipino and a sportsman,” said Ramirez, the chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission. “Above all, it is a more fulfilling achievement to be recognized for character than skills and achievements. It shows who we are as people and as a nation.”

The CIFP will hand Casugay the Fair Play Award on Oct. 27. Should the COVID-19 situation eases up significantly by that time, he can receive the award in person in Monaco, but doing it virtually is an option too.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno_