First Filipino table tennis Olympian Ian "Yanyan" Lariba dies at 23

Ian Lariba during her table tennis match at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Vincent Thian/AP Photo

Ian "Yanyan" Lariba, a Filipino athlete who represented the country at the 2016 Olympics in Rio passed away on Sunday after a lengthy battle with leukemia.

The Twitter account of the Philippine Sports Commission broke the news. She was 23.

Born in Cagayan De Oro on October 13, 1994, Lariba played table tennis at a young age before eventually joining the varsity team at De La Salle University, where she attended college. She won three titles during her time with DLSU, was named MVP thrice, and was crowned UAAP Athlete of the Year in Season 77 and 78.

Lariba's career in table tennis continued to flourish, as she represented the Philippines in international competition in the 2013 and 2015 Southeast Asian Games. The pinnacle of her international career came in 2016, as she was the first Filipino to ever qualify in table tennis in the 2016 Olympics. Because of her accomplishments, Lariba was tapped to be the flag bearer for the Philippines in the event.

Lariba was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in May 2017. Several fundraisers were created to help support her treatment. In late August 2018, Lariba had a relapse, and was admitted to the hospital.