As the 2019 Southeast Asian Games winds down to an end this coming Wednesday, December 11, this biennial regional multi-sporting event has already created some stirring stories and exciting memories for the athletes and spectators in its near-two weeks of spirited competition. Rivalries were formed or reignited in several events, new and innovative contests were introduced, and the host country the Philippines would be proud for its solid medal lead. But aside from the additions and the triumphs there have also been tales of inspiring sportsmanship and heroism. Such has been the life of Filipino surfer Roger Casugay, who not only netted gold, but also became a SEA Games hero.
CNN Philippines reports that Roger Casugay, men’s longboard competitor for the Philippines in the 2019 SEA Games, has been honored with the responsibility of bearing the national flag for the host country’s delegation in the official Closing Ceremony for Wednesday. He earned it not just for his gold medal in the longboard event, but also for the circumstances behind his victory. The SEA Games surfing competition, scheduled from December 2 to 9, was briefly interrupted by the passing of Typhoon Tisoy last week. But when the heats for the men’s longboard were contested at San Juan, La Union, Casugay became the surprise center of attention.
That was because during his heat on December 6, Casugay saw Indonesian surfer Arhip Nurhidayat losing his board when his surfing leash broke while negotiating the La Union waves. Despite his good chance to win a medal, Casugay rescued Nurdiyat, calming him down and letting him ride with him to shore. Nurhidayat upon getting to the beach called Casugay a champion for his good deed. Perhaps fortunately for the competitors the heat was called off due to bad weather. In the rescheduled event two days later, the Filipino beat the Indonesian fairly in the (good-weather) semis, before winning the gold.
Roger Casugay explained his actions that fateful day as him following the surfer’s brotherhood of helping someone in trouble at sea. But his good deed has warranted enough attention in the SEA Games that Indonesian President Joko Widodo has commended the Filipino’s heroism on his official Twitter account. The hero surfer also received praise from the Philippine Sports Commission. And of course, Casugay has the honor of being the closing ceremony flag-bearer. All in all, the 2019 SEA Games have been awesome for the Philippines.
Image from GMA News