MANILA, Philippines – Ian Lariba's jersey has been retired by De La Salle University 8 months since her shocking death from acute myeloid leukemia.
The jersey of the table tennis phenom was raised high above the rafters of the Enrique Razon Sports Complex on Saturday, April 27. She is only the fifth La Salle athlete to have a jersey retired.
But unlike Kurt Bachmann, Lim Eng Beng, Renren Ritualo and Manilla Santos, Lariba's jersey does not have a number.
"You do not have to be in a team sport like volleyball or basketball to show La Salle that you are one of the best that it has produced. Yanyan proves that," said La Salle table tennis team manager Emmanuel Bocaling.
Bocaling also indicated that Lariba's excellence will open up the possibility for the other La Salle athletes in various sports to have their jersey retired.
Afterwards, Lariba was inducted in the La Salle Sports Hall of Fame during the 6th One La Salle Night of Excellence headed by the De La Salle Alumni Association.
Rise to the top
The Cagayan de Oro native began playing table tennis when she was 9 years old and immediately participated in various provincial and national competitions the following year.
While playing at the Palarong Pambansa from 2005 to 2007, Lariba was named girl's division champion.
Lariba was then recruited to play for the Lady Paddlers in the UAAP, where she went undefeated during her five-year collegiate career.
In her first year, Lariba won the Rookie of the Year honors before clinching the Most Valuable Player award the following year.
The BS Management of Financial Institutions student grabbed two more MVP trophies and two UAAP Athlete of the Year awards before she left the collegiate scene.
While in the UAAP, Lariba was ranked as the country's No. 1 women's table tennis player in the Philippine National Games in 2013, 2014, and 2016.
Having dominated the local scene, she represented the Philippines in the international stage.
Lariba became the country's flag bearer in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and was the first Filipino to compete in the table tennis event.
She competed and was a finalist in the 2007, 2013, and 2015 editions of the Southeast Asian Games.
Lariba also saw action in the 2016 International Table Tennis Federation World Championships and reached the quarterfinals. – by Juro Morilla/Rappler.com