A Filipino table tennis Olympian has passed away at the young age of 23 after battling leukemia since May 2017. Table tennis player Ian “Yanyan” Lariba was a student-athlete at De La Salle University (DLSU) and had been undefeated for five years in the University of Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) playing for DLSU, Rappler reported.
During her time playing for DLSU, Lariba won three Most Valuable Player awards and was named Athlete of the Year for two seasons at UAAP. Lariba also represented the Philippines in international table tennis competitions.
She competed in the 2013 and 2015 Southeast Asian Games. In 2014, Lariba led the Philippine team to victory in Division 4 of the World Table Tennis Team Championships held in Tokyo, Japan.
In 2016, Lariba became the first female Filipino table tennis player to qualify for the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and carried the Philippine flag in the opening ceremonies as the country’s flag-bearer.
However, her athletic career was put on hold when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in May 2017. She underwent surgery in January as she was experiencing headaches.
Her illness spread throughout her brain and spine, which required surgery. Lariba passed away on Sunday night after a year-long battle with leukemia.