Athletes unite for ailing Lariba
Financial support and words of encouragement continued to pour on Rio De Janeiro Olympian Ian Lariba with fellow athletes from the Philippine national team going out of their way for her speedy recovery.
A teary-eyed Hidilyn Diaz took the lead Thursday on rallying Filipino athletes to help Lariba, who will undergo treatment after being diagnosed with leukemia.
“As an athlete, she (Lariba) has proven her worth and surpassed all challenges. I know that she will overcome this challenge, too,’’ said the Olympic silver medalist in Filipino.
Diaz couldn’t contain her grief and hid from the cameras after announcing that the Athletes Commission, which the weightlifting heroine spearheads with triathlete Nikko Huelgas, would start a solicitation drive for Lariba.
“We (athletes) have to unite and pray for Yan’s recovery. I’m hopeful that she could join us in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,’’ said Diaz during the launching of the Hidilyn Diaz Weightlifting Open Championships set July 8-9 at the Meralco Fitness Center in Pasig City.
A five-time UAAP women’s singles champion in table tennis, Lariba and Diaz were batchmates in the Philippine team to the Rio De Janeiro Olympics last year when Diaz broke the country’s 20-year medal drought in the quadrennial Summer Games.
Philippine Weightlifting Association president Monico Puentevella also forked P20,000 from the association’s pockets to help the 22-year-old Lariba while the Philippine Olympic Committee initially gave P30,000 through the members of its general assembly.
The Philippine Sports Commission and De La Salle University, which Lariba gave several honors in the UAAP, have formed a collaboration that could help defray the cost of her medical expenses.
Lariba, the first Filipino paddler in the Olympics, was supposed to wear the national colors in the ongoing World Table Tennis Championship in Dusseldorf, Germany but was confined at the St. Lukes Medical Center in Quezon City prior to the event.
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