Olympian and table tennis star Ian “Yan Yan” Lariba experienced how it feels to play on the biggest stage of table tennis in Brazil last year.
Lariba is eager to bank on her experience in the Rio Olympics to achieve a podium finish in this year’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia scheduled on August 19 to 31.
Lariba, who just graduated from De La Salle University with a degree in BS Management in Financial Institutions, will be the anchor of the Philippine team in the biennial meet under coaches Lauro Crisostomo and Rodel Valle.
“I’m focusing now on our SEA Games campaign and we’re undergoing training since January,” Lariba, 22, told The Manila Times.
“Our target is to reach the medal round. Of course, I like to achieve a bigger goal, bigger than a bronze medal but we’ll take it one game at a time.”
During the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore, the Cagayan de Oro City native made it only to the quarterfinal stage of the women’s singles open round.
She also competed in the 2007 and 2013 editions of the SEA Games but didn’t advance from the group stage.
By becoming the first Filipino table tennis player to compete in the Olympics, Lariba knew that expectations are high for her to win a medal in the biennial competition.
“There’s a lot of pressure in any competition. There are also Olympians who will play in the SEA Games and newcomers. It’s everybody’s game and anybody can beat anybody,” she said.
With her studies finished, Lariba can now focus exclusively on her training. The former University Athletic Association of the Philippines Athlete of the Year promised to train hard and bring honor to the country.
Besides Lariba, the other members of the Philippine women’s table tennis team are Sendrina Balatbat, Jamaica Sy, Emy Rose Daep and Rose Jean Fadol.
The men’s team is composed of Ryan Jacolo, Japeth Adaza, Isaias Seronio and John Marie Nayre.