THE Philippine sports community is mourning the loss of 2016 Olympian Ian Lariba, who passed away late Sunday night after battling leukemia. She was only 23.
Philippine Table Tennis Federation president Ting Ledesma confirmed the devastating news to SPIN.ph early Monday morning.
Lariba became the first Filipina table tennis player who clinched a spot in the Olympics, having qualified to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janiero Games.
In May of last year though, Lariba was diagnosed with leukemia, and began treatment thereafter. In November, Lariba had a successful bone marrow transplant, but Lariba recently had a relapse last August 16.
The entire Philippine sports community is saddened by the news.
“Our deepest condolences to the family of Olympian and Table Tennis national athlete Yanyan Lariba who passed away tonight after a brave fight against cancer. You are truly loved and shall be greatly missed,” wrote the Philippine Sports Commission on its Twitter account.
Lariba played for the national team and for De La Salle in the UAAP where she captured three Most Valuable Player awards and two Athlete of the Year plums in the collegiate league.
Lariba made history in 2016 when she qualified for the Rio Olympics during an Asian qualification competition in Hong Kong. Through her historic feat, Lariba was named as flag bearer for the Philippines in the 2016 Rio Olympics.