The ordinary man is fascinated with sports simply because athletes represent the very best versions of ourselves as human beings. The best, most lasting memories from sports are pure drama—the moments that are awesome to behold on the court or on the field, leaving us all flabbergasted and amazed at how they could possibly happen, and that they happened.
Needless to say, 2018 was not short on great sporting moments from around the world. Here’s what’s on our list for this year:
10. Kylian Mbappe makes FIFA World Cup History
Many often tout football as an egalitarian sport for its equal-opportunity lateral—instead of vertical—play, requiring more stamina than height. This is probably why so many stars arise from around the world, like French teenager Kylian Mbappe, who is also the French Player of the Year.
At this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia, Mbappe made history for being the first teenage footballer to score in the World Cup final since living legend Pele in 1958 with a neat goal from just outside the penalty box. Mbappe was 19, only having turned 20 a week ago. Football fans are already aware of this young phenom, but at the rate he’s going and with the appeal he has, he may just be the sport’s next household name—and crossover star.
9. Manny Pacquiao scores a knockout again
Despite personal reservations about the kind of politician (and person) Manny Pacquiao is, it’s hard to ignore finishes like a TKO on Lucas Matthysse. Granted, this was far from a superfight and neither men were in their prime, but perhaps it’s still comforting for our countrymen to see him still be able to pull off a knockout in this stage of his career.
8. The Philadelphia Eagles (and the backup QB) win the Super Bowl
Everyone loves a good Cinderella story, and people love it better when the Cinderella actually wins when they get to the big dance. The 2017-2018 Philadelphia Eagles did just that when Nick Foles, the guy who was supposed to be the backup quarterback to the second overall pick Carson Wentz, took them all the way to the Super Bowl and beat the New England Patriots. (For the uninitiated—the Pats are a Super Bowl dynasty for as long as Tom Brady has been their quarterback.)
What’s even better is this little trick play the Eagles pulled off before halftime, in which Foles, usually the guy throwing touchdowns, catches one from a teammate who would usually receive it.
7. Tiger Woods’s championship comeback
Like Pacquiao, Tiger Woods may be an unsavory figure in golf to many people around the world after his scandals hit, but boy, is he still one hell of a golfer. His time spent in controversy marked a period where he fell off, but his victory at the TOUR Championship last September showed the world that it’s never too late for a comeback. Tiger’s star drew a relatively massive throng of fans and followers on the green, proving that there really is only one Tiger Woods.
6. The longest World Series game ever
If non-baseball fans tell you they don’t like the game because it’s too slow-paced, don’t show them this game. World Series championship games are serious business, and baseball just doesn’t end until someone breaks the tie—leading this particular game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox to last seven and a half hours, a testament to the professional-level dedication of both teams.
The game kept going until the Dodgers caught a break from the Red Sox to score in the bottom of the 18th inning and taking the lead to win. The Red Sox remembered this, however, and won the next couple of games to win this year’s World Series.
5. Azkals go international again
Don’t let anyone ever say that the Azkals are done. Our beleaguered national football team is still going strong and earning spots all around the world, with the latest being a historic win to qualify for the 2019 UAE Asian Cup by beating Tajikistan last March. It was Phil Younghusband’s 50th international goal that sealed the deal and sent the Philippines to the UAE for their Asian Cup debut.
In other news, former Azkal Neil Etheridge also becomes the first Filipino player to play in the prestigious Premier League when his team Cardiff City FC gained promotion to the league and put him on the starting eleven. It’s been a long road for Etheridge to get to this level of play, and to see him there makes us all proud.
4. The Filipina Ju-Jitsu world champion
This one flew under the radar, but it’s still awesome nonetheless. Filipina ju-jitsu fighter Meggie Ochoa wrote her name on the sport’s history books by becoming the country’s first ju-jitsu world champion at the Ju-Jitsu International Federation Championships in Malmo, Sweden last November.
The fact that Ochoa’s big win mostly skipped the national consciousness underscores the sad reality of other sports not named basketball in the Philippines. Everyone should call on the government for more support of pretty much all the sports in which Filipinos win.
3. The dominance of Filipinos in ONE Championship
The UFC may be battered by controversy at the moment, but for MMA fans, there’s always ONE Championship and Filipino MMA fighters to be proud of.
This year, four Team Lakay members won titles in the regional MMA promotion: Eduard Folayang in the lightweight division, Kevin Belingon in the bantamweight division, Geje Eustaquio in the flyweight division, and Joshua Pacio in the strawweight division, on top of good ol’ Brandon Vera in the heavyweight division. Let it never be said that Filipinos can’t compete on the international level.
2. UP’s Cinderella run to the UAAP Finals
Where were you when UP managed to beat Adamson to make it to the UAAP men’s basketball finals for the first time in almost 30 years? You know it’s a great moment in sports when everyone is still talking about the second-placers more than the champions who’ve been around this block far too many times.
Nothing thrills the audience more than an underdog story, and just about everyone was ready to see UP become the champions after almost three decades dwelling in the cellar. Of course, powerhouses aren’t built overnight, and UP coming close but not taking it is par for the course in any underdog narrative. It might be too early to call, but it’s only going to get better from here.
1. Filipinas conquer the Asian Games
Back in August, the Philippines’ run in the Asian Games felt like it was going to be unfruitful—up until the ladies gave the country something to be proud of.
Five Filipinas across three different sports finished first at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, making sure that the delegation wouldn’t be heading home without any gold. Weightlifting powerhouse Hidilyn Diaz, golfers Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan, and Lois Kaye Go, and breakout skateboard star Margielyn Didal reigned supreme in their respective events.
This tops our list because not only did they win gold, but they represent women in some of the more low-key sports—if that’s not something to celebrate, we don’t know what is.
Their big wins only goes to show that Filipinas and Filipinos can make a dent on international sports no matter the stage, and their chances will be even better when they get the right support. Who knows, we might even be able to fill next year’s list with even more Filipino victories!