The 23-year-old table tennis star’s groundbreaking athleticism will never be forgotten

By Catherine Orda | Lead photo by Tristan Tamayo /Inquirer.net

After a year-long battle with acute myeloid leukemia, table tennis player Ian Lariba passed away late Sunday night. She was 23. Hailed as one of De La Salle University’s greatest athletes, Lariban’s college days saw her clinching three UAAP MVP awards for table tennis as well as two Athlete of the Year awards. She was undefeated in her five-year UAAP stint.

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But perhaps Lariba is best known for making sports history about two years ago, after being the first Filipina table tennis player to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. She was also the country’s flag-bearer for the continental showpiece. Reactions and tributes from fans and sports publications and communities have been pouring in since Lariban’s heartbreaking demise:

DLSU Sports has released the official hashtag for UAAP Season 81, which is in honor of Lariban’s outstanding contribution to Philippine sports:

Her fellow athletes have also mourned and honored Lariban’s legacy:

DLSU Green Archers team captain Kib Montalbo—who, about a year ago, auctioned off a pair of his own game-worn shoes to raise funds for Lariba’s medical treatment—extended his condolences to Lariba’s family through an interview:

“We actually prayed for her a while ago. Bago mag-start ‘yung training, siyempre she is a big part of us kasi she is a legend. Sinasabi nga namin ni coach na ‘yun pa ba ‘yung mga tao na walang ginagawang mali, she’s really a good person, you can’t really tell time. If your time’s up, it’s up.”

We send our deepest condolences to Lariba’s family.