Roger Casugay

Photo Courtesy of Roger Casugay

Roger Casugay saved his competitor’s life and still went on to win the gold at the 2019 SEA Games


Roger Casugay drew international attention during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games when he saved the life of Indonesian surfer Arip Nurdihayat. It was a head-to-head heat that would have secured Casugay a gold medal, but a perilous swell pounded the coast and separated Nurdihayat from his surfboard. Without hesitation, Casugay turned towards his competitor and rode back with him to shore. While spectators hailed him as a hero, the Filipino surfer brushed it off as a natural reaction to the situation.

Casugay, after all, grew up in La Union, the surfing capital of the Philippines. When it became the venue for the first surfing competition of the SEA Games, the surf instructor knew that he had been training for this opportunity since he first held a surfboard at six years old. Amazingly, Casugay went on to win the gold medal after a rescheduled match.

For this act of heroism, the president of the Philippines conferred the honour of The Order of Lapu-Lapu on Casugay after the SEA Games. In 2020, the news continued to make waves and he was invited to Monaco to receive the first Pierre de Coubertin Act of Fair Play Award given to a Filipino athlete.

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Did you know?

Roger Casugay married his longtime Dutch girlfriend, Lisa Verweij, in the Netherlands last September 9, 2021. The couple had been in a long-distance relationship and almost three-year engagement before tying the knot.

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