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Lariba, Rio Olympian, La Salle dean’s lister, passes away




Olympian Ian “Yanyan” Lariba passed away Sunday night after a long and valiant battle with acute myeloid leukemia. She was 23.

Official twitter accounts of the Philippine Sports Commission and De La Salle’s Office of Sports Development broke the news, extending their condolences to the family of the national team member and La Salle alumna who made history when she became the first table tennis player to play in the quadrennial tournament.

Lariba, who represented the country in the 2016 Rio Olympics, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016. She underwent stem cell transplant in October 2017 and has been doing well since, even making her first public appearance in November of the same year to personally update about her improving condition.

Her leukemia, however, recurred in January this year.

Different sports personalities and organizations offered their sympathies to Lariba’s family including the International Table Tennis Federation, which conducted a fund-raising campaign last year by gathering some autographed items from top-ranked table tennis athletes.

“With great sadness, we announce the passing of the history-breaking Philippine table tennis player Ian Lariba. Her amazing smile and talent on the table will forever be in our hearts,” the ITTF said in a statement posted on Facebook and Twitter.

“With heavy hearts, we mourn the loss of our star, our first ever Olympian, arguably the greatest Filipina table tennis player of all time, Ian Lariba,” the Philippine Table Tennis Federation Inc. said in a statement.

Some members of the PH team to the Asian Games in Indonesia shed tears, knowing the journey Lariba went through.

“She was a fighter and a true table tennis ambassador, and she put table tennis in the newspaper, television and social media map – a sport which was not given much importance before in our country,” the PTTF added.

Lariba is the first Filipino athlete to qualify for the Olympics when she earned a berth in the Rio Games through securing the last qualifying seat at the 2016 ITTF-Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Hong Kong.

Prior to her Olympic stint, Lariba was a varsity player for La Salle where she gained Rookie of the Year (2011), Most Valuable Player (2012, 2014, 2015) and Athlete of the Year (2014 and 2015). She was undefeated throughout her collegiate career.