HIDILYN Diaz turned emotional when reporters asked her about Ian Lariba, who is now battling leukemia.
Diaz and Lariba were two of the 13 Philippine athletes who made it to the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics and two immediately hit it off while competing for flag and country in the world’s biggest sporting stage.
Now that her friend is fighting the biggest battle of her life, the country's first female Olympic silver medalist is confident Lariba will be able to overcome the odds.
“Marami ng napatunayan si Yanyan,” said Diaz during the press launch of a weightlifting competition named after her. “Undefeated siya sa table tennis sa UAAP. Siya ‘yung first na nakapunta (na Filipino) sa Olympics sa table tennis. Nalagpasan niya. Alam ko malalagpasan niya ito ngayon.”
The Philippine sports community was in shock following news that Lariba has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a condition that forced her to miss the World Table Tennis Championship in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Diaz expressed confidence that Lariba will be able to overcome her illness and has high hopes her friend will be able to compete again in the Olympics in 2020.
“Gusto ko makasama siya hanggang sa Tokyo 2020. Maglalaro kami doon,” said Diaz.
Diaz is also finding ways to help. On Wednesday during the Philippine Olympic Committee general assembly, she sought the help of other national sports associations as well as other national athletes.
Diaz said the support of the athletes will be huge in Lariba’s road to recovery from leukemia.
“Part ako ng athletes commission. Nag-appeal ako sa POC na kausapin ang each NSAs na baka puwedeng mag-solicit ng money para kay Yan,” said Diaz.
“Kung kaming lahat ng athletes, magkakaisa, malaking tulong ‘yun. Galing sa Philippine athletes, isang malaking bagay ‘yun na lahat kami, nagkakaisa para sa kanya,” she added.