Growing Stronger, Rikako Ikee Now Looking For Tokyo 2020 Qualification

We’ve reported how 20-year-old Rikako Ikee of Japan has been making remarkable strides both in and out of the pool as she recovers from leukemia.

After her hospital release in late 2019, Ikee had shifted her pre-leukemia target of medaling at a home-based Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020 to merely getting healthy and stronger with a revised eye toward Paris 2024.

Flash forward to less than 230 days away from the delayed Tokyo Games, however, and Ikee’s recovery is coming along so very well that she and coach Isamu Nishizaki are now not counting out the option of indeed aiming for next year’s Games after all.

With the Olympics’ postponement to July 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ability to have more time to build strength has benefitted the freestyle and fly ace. For instance, we reported just last month how Ikee is now doing the same workouts as her training partners.

Additionally, Ikee’s participation in the Tokyo Olympic Aquatics Center opening, which included an exhibition swim, reportedly stirred up Olympic emotions with the swimmer, leading her to now consider a possible bid.

Sources told Sanspo, “Ikee showed a powerful swim at the demonstration and experienced the atmosphere of the venue [at the opening ceremony]. She is also from Tokyo and this strengthened her feelings for the Olympics to be held locally.”

All this fueling combined with her natural ability and spirit led Ikee to tell Sanspo today regarding Tokyo 2020 qualification, “I would like to challenge if there is a possibility.”

Ikee’s next competition is most likely January’s Kosuke Kitajima Cup. Although this is not an Olympic-qualifying meet, Ikee will still aim to hit the minimum Olympic time standard for the women’s 50m freestyle as dictated by the Japanese Swimming Federation (JASF), which stands at 24.46. This would be an important marker for Ikee in terms of knowing how far she would need to go.

The sole Olympic qualifying meet for Japanese swimmers is represented by the Japan Swim in April. The top 2 swimmers in each event earn spots on the nation’s roster for Tokyo, provided they each hit the stiff consideration standards.

For the women’s 4x100m free relay, although japan finished 5th at last year’s World Championships in order to qualify a squad in FINA’s eyes, the top 4 racers still need to average at least 54.42 in the individual 100m free to be named to the Olympic roster.

You can read more about Japanese qualifications here.

After more than 594 days away from competition, Ikee returned to racing at the Tokyo Special Swimming Tournament in August, where she logged a 50m freestyle time of 26.32. The multi-national record holder followed that up with an even quicker 25.62 at Japan’s Student Swimming Championships the first weekend of October.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Yoni Ee
1 year ago

Ikee will add color to the Tokyo Olympics. Look forward to her qualification.
All the best Rikako.

1 year ago

This is an incredible comeback, so inspiring!

1 year ago

It is a crime not to see her compete at her home Olympics. Please swimming gods let her qualify 🙏

Coach Mike 1952
1 year ago

A true warrior

Mr Piano
1 year ago

She is so amazing, I hope she does very well in Tokyo! It would be one of the greatest sports comebacks in history.

1 year ago

Inspiring and incredible!

Honest Observer
1 year ago

Think the Japanese fans will be behind her?

1 year ago

I swear to God, if this doesn’t excite you, you have no heart!!! LETS GO IKEE!!!

About Retta Race

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.

Read More »