FOR his heroic deed during the last 30th Southeast Asian Games, SEA Games surfing gold medalist Roger Casugay has been awarded the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin World Trophy by the International Fair Play Committee.
Casugay, who rescued Indonesian surfer Arip Nurhidayat from drowning at the height of typhoon “Tisoy” during the SEA Games surfing event off the coast of San Juan, La Union, is the latest recipient of the accolade named after French sportsman Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games.
The award, inaugurated in 1954 and whose past recipients are heroic and notable humanitarian figures, among them sailing athlete Lawrence Lemieux (Canada, 1988), bobsledder Justin Harley Mcdonald (Australia, 1994), and marathoner Emil Zatopek (Czechoslovakia, 1952) among others, is set to be officially given to Casugay on October 27.
He is expected to travel to Monaco to personally receive the award, should the coronavirus crisis permit. He also has an option to receive the award virtually.
The Ilocano athlete’s good deed was amply rewarded as he went on to rule the men’s long board event on top of getting a similar “Fair Play” Award from the Philippine SEAG Organizing Committee.
Among those who congratulated Casugay, 26, of San Fernando, La Union yesterday was the Philippine Sports Commission, which said in a tweet: “Congratulations Roger Casugay for being awarded the Pierre de Coubertain Act of Fair Play Award by the Comité International du Fair-Play (International Fair Play Committee) with his heroic act in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. We are so proud of you.”
Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Bambol Tolentino also toasted the SEA Games hero, saying: “We salute Roger for showing the character and values of a true Filipino sportsman, who not only aspired for gold but was willing to sacrifice in saving others.
“This was a fine display of brotherhood among the SEA Games competitors so he totally deserves this award.”
“We are very proud of Roger because he has truly exemplified the true meaning of being a Filipino and a sportsman,” said PSC chairman Ramirez. “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.”
Newly-elected International Olympic Committee Executive Board member Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski also had good words for the Filipino surfer.
“The awarding of the Pierre de Coubertin Act of Fair Play Award by the International Fair Play Committee to our Filipino surfer, Roger Casugay, is a wonderful and well-deserved recognition of his selfless act,” Cojuangco-Jaworski said.
“I am in great admiration of how he displayed Olympic values of friendship, respect and excellence, and grateful how he represented our country. Congratulations Roger,” she added.
Organized with the help of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization in 1963, the International Fair Play Committee has been awarding the World Fair Play trophy since 1964, which comes with a letter of congratulations and “diploma of honor” or certificate from the IFPC.
In its website, the IFPC cited three general criteria in meriting the award:
· For an act of fair play by complying with both the written and unwritten rules of sport’
· For a general attitude of sportsmanship throughout a sports career by demonstrating an outstanding and constant spirit of fair play;
· For an activity aiming to promote fair play such as the organization of national or local campaigns, lectures, books, articles or reports in the media.
Italian bobsledder Eugenio Monti was the award’s first recipient in 1964. He helped the men’s British bobsled team, supplying a key equipment during the Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria that year. The British squad went on to win the gold medal in the event.
Italian football player Fabio Caramel and Norwegian canoe paddler Eivind Vold were the awardees of the Pierre de Coubertin World Trophy in 2018.
A defender for Italian club Spinea, Caramel missed a game to donate his bone marrow to a needy patient while Vold disqualified himself from the men’s 5,000-meter finals of the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships when he missed a race buoy. He returned his bronze medal after the race.
Surfing made its debut in the 30th SEA Games where Filipino surfers finished as overall champions with 2 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals, including Casugay’s gold in the men’s longboard competition.
Casugay served as the flag bearer of the Philippines during the closing rites at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.