FACED with the biggest battle of her young life, Olympian Ian Lariba proved to be a fighter to the very end.
Although stricken with leukemia, Lariba went out of her way and inspired others to remain brave in the face of adversity, her mom said.
Imelda Lariba said her daughter spent the last year of her life serving as ‘ambassador for cancer patients,’ especially among children.
The elder Lariba recalled how ‘YanYan’ spoke before the Rotary Club of Bacolod at the ‘Bahay Aruga’ institution and at St. Lukes about her battle with the ‘Big C.’
Lariba passed away Sunday night. She was 23.
“She spoke about her experiences sa treatment and admission. And she inspired these kids by telling them that they should not be discouraged and depressed,” said Lariba’s mother.
“She told them that I got sick kahit na athlete ako. Binigay sa akin ito, fight lang and move on.”
Lariba became the first-ever table tennis player to represent the country in the Olympics during the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Games in which she also served as the flag bearer of the Philippine delegation.
She was a three-time UAAP MVP after leading De La Salle to three table tennis championships during her five-year stint with the school.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez said on Monday that President Duterte through the government sports agency, will take care of all the financial bills of the fallen Olympian.
“We committed to support her,” said Ramirez in a statement. “We will help the family until she goes to Cagayan de Oro.
“It’s important that people should know her and her contributions to sports, being the first Filipino Olympian from table tennis.”