Asian Games Rewind: Japan Beat China For First Time Since 1998


18-year-old Rikako Ikee has proven yet again she is a formidable force among the world’s best, producing an impressive string of performances between her major meets this summer. The Japanese athlete crushed a new National and Asian Record in the women’s 200m freestyle while competing at the Pan Pacific Championships, stopping the clock at a super quick 1:54.85. The teen also threw down a new national record in the 100m butterfly, winning gold in Tokyo in a monster 56.08.

However, exactly a week after the last day of competition at Pan Pacs on Sunday, August 12th, Ikee was already back in the water to contest several events at the prestigious continental championship that is the Asian Games.

Taking place quadrennially, the competition, for some, sits behind the Olympics in terms of national importance and stature. Many Chinese athletes, for example, opted out of competing at the Pan Pacs in order to lock down their best races at the latter event.

Ikee was able to handle the travel and short time span between the competitions beautifully, making history in the process. While competing in Jakarta at the Asian Games, Ikee amassed an incredible 6 gold medals, including individual titles in the 50m free, 100m free, 50m fly and 100m fly. Her contribution to her nation’s 4 x 100m free and 4 x 100m medley relays also helped Japan gather gold in those races.

With her major hardware haul, Ikee became the first swimmer to win 6 gold medals at a single Asian Games. Adding in her silvers in the 4 x 200m freestyle and mixed medley relays, Ikee raced her way to 8 medals in all, equaling the single Asian Games Record held by North Korean shooter So Gin-man.

Japan needed every bit of Ikee’s help in beating its primary Asian Games swimming rival in China and, indeed, Japan pulled it off. The nation earned 52 medals in all, including 20 gold, which put Japan ahead of China in the overall swimming table for the first time since 1998.

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4 years ago

she should have raced 200 free. The race was won in 1:56.9, and the only other race she had that night was the mixed medley relay!! She easily could have had seven golds!!

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Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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