ESPN5's Sports Decade: Ten breakthrough moments

As the decade draws to a close, the ESPN5.com editorial staff look back at the sporting figures and moments that stood out and helped define Philippine sports in the 2010s. Check back regularly until December 31 for the latest features in our ESPN5.com Sports Decade series.

We start off with a list of 10 breakthrough performances and developments from 2010 to 2019. These are not necessarily the best performances, but instead represent noteworthy or first-time achievements. So if you're looking for a Hidilyn Diaz, Margie Didal or some other Filipino athlete who excelled on the world stage in the 2010s, fret not. They most likely made our other lists. Here are our choices:

Neil Etheridge debuts in the EPL

The ever-reliable goalkeeper of the Philippine Azkals became the first Filipino - and Southeast Asian - to play in the English Premier League, manning the sticks for Cardiff City.

For his stellar play inside the box, he was recognized by the club as the team's Player of the Year just this May.

Michael Christian Martinez introduces ice skating to Filipinos

Not a sport usually patronized by Filipinos, Martinez became the darling of the country after an elegant performance in the figure skating event of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Then 17, Martinez was not able to win as he only managed to place 17th out of 24, but his performance was enough to captivate the national audience.

He also competed in the 2018 edition, and even though he again fell short of a medal, continued to inspire young Filipinos to take up the sport.

Local esports league launched

"Kaka-computer mo 'yan!" became a profession for the participants of the first-ever esports league in the country, The Nationals, which was launched earlier this year in partnership with ESPN5.

The first-ever tournament featured PC gaming, mobile, and console gaming.

The tournament's top players comprised the delegation to the inaugural esports tournament in the recently-concluded Southeast Asian Games, where the Philippines won several gold medals.

Gilas Women, finally

If the Philippine men's basketball team was untouchable in the SEA Games in the 2010s, their female counterparts had encountered nothing but heartache until this year.

They started the decade known as Perlas Pilipinas and were a rebound-turned-traveling-violation away from a gold in the 2011 SEA Games, and ended it as Gilas Women with the SEAG gold medals finally draped around their necks.

Dottie Ardina makes it to the LPGA

Honing her craft in golf in The Symetra Tour, the official developmental tournament of the LPGA Tour, Ardina finished in the Top 10 four times in 2016, earning herself a ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

However, due to the Zika virus scare, she was not able to represent our country in the biggest sporting meet in the world.

Ardina has steadily climbed the world rankings over the past four years, from 583 in 2015 to 284 in 2018. A dominant 2018 season on the Symetra Tour allowed her to gain full membership for the 2019 LPGA season.

Krizziah Tabora wins Bowling World Cup

The Philippines has a rich history in bowling, but it had not had a women's bowling World Cup champion since Bong Coo in 1979. Krizziah Tabora finally ended the long drought in 2017 when she won the Qubica AMF Bowling World Cup in Hermosillo, Mexico.

Tabora bested Malaysia's Siti Safiyah in the final to become the country's third women's champion and fifth overall.

Carlo Biado's breakthrough win

Carlo Biado had quite the resume built during the past decade, but it wasn't until 2017 when he finally won big on the world stage and finished that year ranked no. 1 in the world.

Biado won the men's 9-ball event of the 2017 World Games, and later that year was crowned WPA World 9 Ball champion after beating fellow Filipino Roland Garcia in the final, becoming the first Filipino to win the prestigious event since Django Bustamante in 2010. He reached the final again in 2018 but fell to rising German star Joshua Filler in a close fight.

He also reached the finals of the WPA World Ten-ball Championship in 2015. At the regional level, Biado won two golds, one silver and three bronzes over four editions of the Southeast Asian Games.

The La Union native also qualified to this year's World Players Championship Finals.


Making HERstory: Janelle Frayna

Janelle Frayna's immense love for the game of chess eventually led her to the pinnacle of her young career, but being the first Filipina Grandmaster did not stop her from finding her true purpose. This is HER story.

Janelle Frayna is the Philippines' first female grandmaster

Janelle Frayna made a name for herself as the best female chess player in the country. She was awarded the title of Woman Grandmaster by the world's governing body of chess, FIDE, in 2017.

Prior to that, she was also awarded as the UAAP Athlete of the Year along with the late Yan Lariba in Season 77 in 2015.


Making HERstory: Carina Dayondon

Reach new heights with the story of Carina Dayondon.

Carina Dayondon conquers the Seven Summits

Carina Dayondon became the first-ever Filipina to scale the Seven Summits, or the tallest mountains in each of the seven continents, achieving a rare feat in mountaineering,

Dayondon became only the second Filipino to complete the feat since Romi Garduce. The Filipina completed the achievement after a successful ascent of Vinson Massif in Antarctica in December 2018.

Carlos Yulo is a world gymnastics champion

Carlos Edriel "Caloy" Yulo conquered the world of gymnastics just last October, as he became the first Filipino to win a gold in the said event. In the 49th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, Yulo struck gold in the men's floor exercise, scoring 15.300 points.

Following up on his tremendous performance, he won two golds, added by five silvers in the seven gymnastics events of the 2019 SEA Games.