Rikako Ikee

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Rikako Ikee, Japan swim star, eyes 2024 Olympics after leukemia

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Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee, who announced she was diagnosed with leukemia in February, was discharged after a 10-month hospitalization and wants to return for the 2024 Paris Olympics, according to her social media.

“There were times when I had strong nausea from the medication or a sense of fatigue, but I kept telling myself, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK, it will end at some point,'” was posted, according to a Kyodo News translation. “I want to work hard with a goal of competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics and winning a medal.”

Ikee, 19, became Japan’s premier female swimmer in 2017 and 2018.

She won the 100m butterfly at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, the year’s major international meet, clocking the fastest time in the world for the year. She also took silver in the 200m freestyle ahead of Katie Ledecky. She later earned six golds, including four in individual events, at the Asian Games.

Ikee finished fifth in the 100m butterfly as a 16-year-old at the Rio Olympics.

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Swimmers at worlds pay tribute to Japanese star with leukemia

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GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — After receiving their medals, all three world swimming championships 100m butterfly medalists gathered on the top podium spot and raised their palms to the crowd, displaying a message to ailing 19-year-old Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee.

“Rikako never give up” it read, with hearts decorating their palms. Swedish silver medalist Sarah Sjostrom came up with the idea and was joined by surprise Canadian gold medalist Maggie MacNeil, a rising sophomore at Michigan, and Australian bronze medalist Emma McKeon.

Ikee, Japanese’s best female swimmer, announced in February that she has leukemia.

She was the world junior champion in the 100m fly and had the fastest time in the world last year. She is aiming to return in time to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.

“We’re hoping this will show that we’re supporting her and we’re here if she needs anything,” MacNeil said.

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Tokyo 2020 medal contender Rikako Ikee has leukemia

Rikako Ikee
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TOKYO (AP) — Japanese swimming star Rikako Ikee has been diagnosed with leukemia less than 18 months before the Olympics in Tokyo.

The 18-year-old Ikee won six gold medals at the Asian Games in Jakarta last year and was tipped to be one of the faces of the 2020 Olympics in her home country.

She posted on her verified Twitter account Tuesday that her illness surfaced when she got tests after returning from a training trip to Australia.

“I still can’t believe it, and I am in a state of confusion,” she wrote.

Officials of the Japan Swimming Federation called a news conference and said Ikee was at a hospital being treated.

Ikee expressed hopes for recovery but acknowledged she could not compete for a while.

“I will take some days off for now and focus on my treatment to do my utmost so that I can show you as soon as possible an even more powerful Rikako Ikee,” she said.

Ikee is among the world’s best in the 100-meter butterfly, an event where she is close to breaking the world record of 55.48 seconds held by Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden. She swam 56.08 last year and talked about being able to break that mark.

“If everything goes well, I think I will be able to set the world record,” she told The Associated Press in an interview after being selected as MVP at the Asian Games.

Her other top race is the 200-meter freestyle.

Ikee wrote optimistically on Twitter about her chance for a recovery.

“It is a sickness for which there is recovery with proper treatment,” she said. “It would make me happy if you would all continue to warmly watch over me.”

Ikee has been a highly regarded junior swimmer and finished sixth in the 100-fly almost three years ago in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.