Filipino surfing hero Roger Casugay on Saturday finally received his Pierre de Coubertin Act of Fair Play trophy during colorful awards rites by the organizing Council of the International Fair Play Committee in Budapest, Hungary.
“It’s an honor to receive this World Fair Play Award. I’m so grateful and happy to be one of the awardees,” said Casugay, who was accompanied by his Dutch wife Lisa.
“Finally, you were able to receive the World Fair Play award in person. I’m proud of you mahal. Let’s keep inspiring each other,” said Lisa on the couple’s official Facebook page.
Her post was accompanied by the famous quote from the French founder of the International Olympic Committee Baron Pierre de Coubertin: “The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.”
This famous line became the essence of the Fair Play awards, named after Coubertin, and was founded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), along with international sports governing bodies in 1963.
A native of La Union, the 26-year-old Casugay was awarded for his courageous and selfless act during the Southeast Asian Games held in 2019 in the Philippines.
Casugay earned the admiration of the international sports community when he gave up his commanding lead to help a drowning Indonesian opponent Arip Nurdihayat amid the strong waves brought about by Typhoon Tisoy during the competition. His bravery cost him the gold medal.
He later made up for it to win the gold in another event.
Casugay’s act of kindness garnered commendations from various people, including no less than Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
The International Surfing Association recommended him for the Fair Play award.
Finally, after two years of delay due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Casugay got his hands on the precious trophy.
“I would like to thank President Mr. Jeno Kamuti, Mr. Gabor Deregan for helping me to get here in Budapest, and the Fair Play Committee for the warm welcome. Congratulations to all the other awardees” added Casugay.
“It is nice to recognize an athlete not only for his athletic skills, but also for his humanity,” said UPSA President Raul Canlas. “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.”
Another athlete from Iran, Saeid Mollaei, also received the Fair Play Trophy when he “showed courage and integrity during the World Judo Championships in Tokyo 2019, when he denounced the threats and pressure to which he has been subjected by the Iranian authorities in order to avoid any confrontation with an Israeli opponent on or off the tatami.”
Among those who had received the CIFP World Fair Play Prizes were prominent athletes Sergey Bubka (athletics), Kipchoge Keino (athletics), Emil Zatopek (athletics), László Papp (boxing), Miguel Indurain (cycling), Sir Bobby Charlton (football), Wayne Gretzky (ice-hockey), Stefan Edberg (tennis), Pete Sampras (tennis) and L’Equipe (newspaper) to name a few.