Federation hails Ian Lariba as Filipina table tennis GOAT
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine table tennis has lost a gem of an athlete who was dubbed as "arguably the greatest Filipina table tennis player of all time."
The Philippine Table Tennis Federation, Inc is mourning the passing of Olympian Ian Lariba, who succumbed to a year-long bout with acute myeloid leukemia and died on Sunday, September 2. She was 23.
"With heavy hearts, we mourn the loss of our star, our first ever Olympian [and] arguably the greatest Filipina table tennis player of all time, Ian Lariba," the federation said in a statement.
Lariba was the first Filipino table tennis player to qualify for the Olympics when she saw action in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. She was the country's flag bearer in the opening ceremonies that Olympiad.
It was a culmation of Lariba's storied UAAP career after she went undefeated for 5 years for De La Salle University, won three Most Valuable Player awards and led the Lady Paddlers to three championships.
But her career was cut short when she was diagnosed with leukemia in May 2017.
She underwent head surgery in January and was admitted at the St. Luke's Medical Center-Global City in August when her leukemia relapsed before she passed away.
"[S]he was a fighter and true table tennis ambassador and she put table tennis in the newspaper, television and social media map – a sport which was not given much importance before in our country." – Rappler.com