LA Salle raised Olympian Ian Lariba’s jersey to the rafters on Saturday at the Enrique Razon Sports Complex.
"Medals, trophies may get tarnished. A champion lives on. Her determination and perseverance are worth emulating for all Lasallian athletes and all Lasallians," said Bro. Bernie Oca, FSC as the Lasallian community gave a toast to the late table tennis star.
Lariba was in a league of her own with the Green Paddlers as she went undefeated from 2011 to 2016.
Her stellar showing led to three gold medals for La Salle in table tennis, where she was named MVP in Seasons 75, 77 and 78.
In those last two years, Lariba's excellence also led to her being named as the Athlete of the Year, a fitting end to what has been her illustrious collegiate career for the green-and-white.
Lariba's exploits were not limited to Taft, as she represented the country in the 2016 Rio Olympics, becoming the first country's first ever table tennis Olympian.
Unfortunately in 2017, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid lukemia, passing away in September of 2018. She was 23.
Though she may be gone from this world, her alma mater made sure that her accomplishments are immortalized as Lariba joined basketball stars Kurt Bachmann, Lim Eng Beng and Renren Ritualo and volleyball legend Manilla Santos among those whose numbers were put up in the La Salle rafters.
"We will make a concrete manifestation of how much we love Yanyan," said Oca.
La Salle athletic director Nongnong Calanog also had fond memories of Lariba, who not only excelled in her sport but also made it a point to focus on her studies.
"Pag natatandaan ko si Yanyan, two things stand out. Una, yung hard work both in academics and sa kanyang pagte-table tennis. Kaya siya successful is she puts in the work and wala siyang reklamo. Yung second is yung humility. She's a three-time MVP in the UAAP, an Olympian, pero she's so unassuming. I think those two things really stand out and hopefully, will inspire our Lasallian athletes and even Filipinos in general," he said.
Calanog hopes that Lariba's jersey retirement will also serve as an inspiration to the other student-athletes to aspire for greatness, no matter what sport they play.
"Popular lang sa atin basketball and volleyball so even us in the Office of Sports Development, we are hoping to open up the floodgates, to realize that there are other sports that are really exciting," he said.
"In this case, Yanyan was able to prove we can be world-class in table tennis. Hopefully, the other sports will also be given their due."