RIO Olympics-bound table tennis player Ian Lariba will join professional tournaments in Japan and Korea in the coming weeks.
Lariba said her stint in the two countries will help prepare her for the tough competition she expects to face when sees action in Olympiad.
“I’m taking it one game at a time. For sure, mabigat ang kalaban,” said the 21-year-old Lariba, who talked about her preparations for the Olympics after arriving late to receive an Athlete of the Year award last Saturday at the closing ceremonies of the 78th University Athletic Association of the Philippines at the Bahay Alumni inside the University of the Philippines Diliman campus in Quezon City.
A women’s varsity athlete of De La Salle University, Lariba was one of four athletes that the UAAP feted as its top performers for Season 78.
Also named Athletes of the Year were Ateneo’s Jessie Khing Lacuna of swimming, Adamson’s Queeny Sabobo of softball, Ateneo’s Alyssa Valdez and trackster John Loyd H. Osorio, an incoming Grade 11 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics student of UE Manila.
It was the first time that the league honored five athletes at the same time, with Lariba emerging as the most deserving because she qualified for the Olympics.
“This award is such an honor. It surely builds confidence,” said Lariba, who took a break from a tournament she joined in Chinatown, Manila.
Lariba qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics through the Asian qualification tournament held in Hong Kong last April.
She was trained by Korean coach Kwon Mi Sook, a medalist at the 1989 World Table Tennis Championships.
Lariba was the 11th and last Asian to make it to the table tennis competition of the Olympiad.
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