Rio Olympics veteran Ian Lariba passed away on Sunday night after losing her battle against myeloid leukemia for more than a year.
Her mother, Mel Lariba, broke the sad news to The Manila Times.
“She (Yan-yan) served as an ambassador for cancer patients. She inspired children with cancer when she was invited as guest speaker in an event organized by the rotary in Bacolod last December 28 to 30, she spoke about her experiences in treatment and admission,” the mother said.
Philippine Table Tennis Federation Inc. President Ting Ledesma and the whole sports community, including Lariba’s Olympic buddy Hidilyn Diaz, mourn the loss of the two-time University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Athlete of the Year.
“With heavy hearts, we mourn the loss of our star, our first ever Olympian, arguably the greatest Filipina table tennis player of all time Ian Lariba,” said Ledesma through a statement sent to the media.
“From her days as a table tennis prodigy, and at such young age winning all of the tournaments she joined, to her storied UAAP career, where she never lost a single match while winning UAAP Athlete of the year twice, to being a constant fixture in the DLSU deans list during her playing days, to qualifying for the Olympics, to battling cancer, she was a fighter and true table tennis ambassador and she put table tennis in the newspaper television & social media map, a sport which was not given much importance before in our country. Our sympathies and prayers are with her family,” the statement read.
The Philippine Sports Commission, headed by Chairman William Ramirez, said they would pay all the hospital bills of the former La Salle athlete and guaranteed to help her family until Lariba’s remains is transferred to her province Cagayan De Oro City.
The International Table Tennis Federation also paid tribute to Lariba’s passing as well as the UAAP.
“She will be missed,” said UAAP executive director Rebo Saguisag said through a statement in behalf of the league. “While we mourn her passing, let us also take occasion to celebrate her life, a life that most of us can only dream of.”
J.T. Ramos, TMT