Casugay earns nod of Indonesian president
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - December 10, 2019 - 12:00am

CAPAS, Tarlac, Philippines — “Humanity above all.”

Roger Casugay, the Filipino surfing gold medalist who saved the life of an Indonesian competitor, drew praises from Indonesian President Joko Widodo for his heroic act.

In a message posted by Widodo on his verified Twitter account @jokowi yesterday, the Indonesian Chief Executive showed appreciation and gratitude for Casugay, who abandoned the battle to rescue Indonesian bet Arhip Nurhidayat after the latter lost his board to the rolling waves and nearly drowned during their semifinal match in San Fernando, La Union.

“Winning the competition and upholding sportsmanship is important, but humanity is above all,” said Widodo in Indonesian. “My appreciation for Roger Casugay, a Filipino surfer who gave up the golden opportunity (to win) to help an Indonesian athlete who fell in the race.Greetings from Indonesia,” he added.

Due to the incident, Casugay’s  showdown with Nurhidayat was called off.

When it was rescheduled, the man who became known as the surfer with “a heart of gold” beat Nurhidayat and then countryman Jay-R Esquivel last Sunday to pocket the gold.

Casugay was also bestowed the honor of carrying the country’s flag bearer during the closing rites of the 30th SEAG tomorrow at the New Clark City here.

“By sacrificing his chance to save an opponent, he embodies the true essence of being a sportsman,” said Philippine Sports Commission chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, referring to Casugay.

As flag bearer, Casugay will perform the role played by compatriots Margie Didal, EJ Obiena, Nesthy Petecio, Eumir Marcial, Meggie Ochoa and Kiyomi Watanabe in the opening ceremony.

It’s an honor that fits someone with a heart of gold.

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