Best of luck, team: Ian Lariba leads first wave of PH athletes to leave for Rio Olympics
The Philippine contingent, led by table tennis player Ian Lariba and chief of mission Joey Romasanta, is sent off at the airport by POC president Peping Cojuangco. Jerome Ascano

SIX Filipino athletes competing in the Olympics left for Rio De Janeiro on Saturday from Manila.

The athletes, led by trail-blazing table tennis player Ian Lariba, left in an Emirates flight for a 26-hour travel that will see them make a stopover in Dubai before heading to Rio De Janeiro.

Lariba, the country's flag-bearer in the opening ceremony on August 5, was joined by Hidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colonia of weightlifting, Marestella Torres-Sunang of athletics, Kirstie Elaine Alora of taekwondo, and Jessie Khing Lacuna of swimming.

"They trained so hard for this. All their hardwork will be manifested in the actual competition. They just have to savor the moment and be competitive as they can," said Philippine Olympic Committee first vice president Joey Romasanta before they checked in at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The rest, boxers Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez, 400m hurlder Eric Cray, marathoner Mary Joy Tabal, and swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi and golfer Miguel Tabuena, will join the rest of the athletes from Manila.

The athletes will arrive a week early in Rio to get acclimatized with the conditions in the Brazilian city.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @jeromeascano