Rio De Janeiro Olympian Ian “Yanyan’” Lariba personally received words of encouragement from South Korean Olympic champion Ryu Seung-min before she goes through a high-risk bone marrow transplant.
Ryu, the International Olympic Committee’s representative to South Korea, visited Lariba at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City on Monday and handed out the financial assistance from the members of the Korean national table tennis squad.
Lariba, the first Filipino table netter to wear the national colors in the Olympics, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia five months ago and will go under knife on Saturday.
“I’m here to support Lariba in her fight against her ailment. I couldn’t believe she’s sick, she smiled all the time,’’ said Ryu, who met Lariba during last year’s Rio Games with Lariba’s coach, Kwon Mi Sook.“I believe she will come back soon and play with us,’’ added the table tennis men’s singles gold medalist in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Apart from the $3,000 donation of the Koreans, Philippine Table Tennis Federation president Ting Ledesma said the International Table Tennis Federation, the world governing body in the sport, has also committed $20,000 inn monetary aid.
“This news is already known all over the world with table tennis enthusiasts from other countries helping her,’’ said Ledesma. “Ryu’s visit will boost Yanyan’s confidence for this Saturday’s bone marrow transplant.’’“It’s very crucial, please keep praying for her. If the bone marrow transplant is successful, I’m sure she will come back again on the table tennis arena and proudly carry our flag again,’’ added Ledesma, who recently organized the Lariba Cup, a fund-raiser intended for Lariba.
Ryu also donated a huge box of brand-new table tennis balls to the PTTF worth roughly $3,000 and gave Lariba a South Korean jersey with the signatures and messages from all the members of the Korean team.
Ryu said the Korean team is open to a fund-raising activity where they would play an exhibition match against top Filipino table netters for Lariba’s benefit.