Rio Olympics weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz called on the Philippine sports community to help her fellow Olym-pian, table tennis player Ian “Yan-yan” Lariba, who was recently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
“Let’s face it we need money to help Yan-yan. Aside from our prayers, athletes should donate money for Yan-Yan’s medication. She is a good person and a fellow athlete, so the Athletes Commission will do something to help her,” Diaz told The Manila Times.
“I was so sad after learning about the incident. The last time I saw her she looked weak but I never expected this to happen,” added Diaz, 26, who is also a member of the Philippine Olympic Committee Athletes Commission.
Joining Diaz in the call to aid Lariba are two more Pinay Olympians – Kirstie Mae Alora, a tae kwon do jin and Cebuana Mary Joy Tabal, a marathoner.
“I know that you still have a long way to go with your treatment but always know that we are here to support you every step of it and we’ll always pray for you to overcome your sickness and have a speedy recovery,” said Alora.
“I am including Ian in my everyday prayers. She’s a close friend and she’s a good person,” said Tabal. “I know she can fight this battle, it’s like a competition she’s been with, and I know she will win this fight. And I know she can do this. We will be here praying for her.”
Lariba, a two-time University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Athlete of the Year, was diagnosed with leukemia during the last phase of her training for the World Championship in Germany that started last May 27.
She is the first Filipino table tennis player to compete in the Olympics since the sport was included in the Summer Games in 1988.
HDWOC unfolds July 8
The Hidilyn Diaz Weightlifting Open Championships (HDWOC) will be held from July 8 to 9 at the Meralco Fitness Center in Pasig City.
The PH Weightlifting Queen vowed to make the sports popular in the country and create a deep pool of talents ready to compete in international arena.
“The youth is my inspiration when I felt leaving the sport. They see me as an inspiration that’s why I want to inspire them and produce more Olympians,” said Diaz, who ended the Philippines’ 20-year medal-drought in the quadrennial meet by winnining a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
WITH REPORT FROM JEAN RUSSEL V. DAVID