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Lariba is latest Olympian


National player Ian ‘Yan-yan’ Lariba captured the last remaining Olympic slot when he defeated Indonesian Lilis Indriani Saturday night in the women’s singles division of 2016 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Hong Kong.

On her way to her latest feat, Lariba won the classification phase over Maha Faramarzi of Qatar, 11-5, 11-1, 11-7, 11-4, before outplaying Mahjobeh Omran of Iran, 11-6, 15-13, 11-8, 7-11, 10-12, 11-8.

After losing on her first try against Orawan Paranang of Thailand (6-11, 2-11, 4-11, 11-13) in the Southeast Asia stage one bracket, the 22-year-old De La Salle University lass swept her Indonesian foe in Draw D during stage two of the competition, a win that will make her an Olympian.

Lariba will be travelling to Rio together with Eric Cray (athletics), Rogen Ladon (boxing), Charly Suarez (boxing) and Kirstie Elaine Alora (tae kwon do) to compete in the quadrennial sportsfest starting August 5 to 10.

The standout of De La Salle University, who won the UAAP Season 78 Most Valuable Player trophy for leading her school to women’s title, was accompanied by veteran player Richard Gonzales and newcomer John Marie Nayre. Both Gonzales and Nayre failed in their men’s singles class campaigns.

Table Tennis Association of the Philippines President Ting Ledesma, meanwhile, was impressed with Lariba’s huge achievement under his administration.

“I’m thankful to those who helped us pursue Yan-yan’s Olympic dream especially the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee, among other sponsors,” said Ledesma. “I also feel blessed because it happened during my term as president. We didn’t give up, we’re so happy.”