Ikee Keeping To Relays Only; Sato Adding 100 Breast For Olympics

In a remarkable story of determination and perseverance, 20-year-old Rikako Ikee qualified for the postponed 2020 Olympic Games just months after her return to racing.

Spending nearly the entire calendar year of 2019 in the hospital undergoing intense treatments in her fight against leukemia, Ikee dove back into the pool for her first race in August of 2020. Flash forward to April 2021 and Ikee powered her way onto the Japanese roster for a home-based Games as a member of the 4x100m free and 4x100m medley relays.

Ikee topped the women’s 100m free and 100m fly events at her nation’s Olympic Trials in April, although she missed the stiff Japanese Swimming Federation-mandated qualification times for individual swims.

Some speculated that the federation may indeed grant Ikee the ability to race the events individually since she will be in Tokyo on the relays. However, with the official events-per-swimmer document published by the JASF, we can confirm that Ikee is indeed keeping to just the relays, primarily to conserve physical strength in her first international elite competition back.

Daiya Seto is racing the most individual events at 3, set to battle in the men’s 200m IM, 400m IM and 200m fly, as expected.

Shoma Sato and Ryuya Mura, however, are both now entered in the 100m and 200m breaststroke, despite having only hit the qualification time in the longer distance. In the 100m breast sprint at the Trials in April, Sato touched first in 59.30 while Mura snagged the silver in 59.55 when a QT of 59.21 was needed to qualify outright.

Sato has proven to be a major player in the 200m breast event, currently ranked #2 in the world in 2:06.40, sitting only behind Aussie Zac Stubblety-Cook’s 2:06.28 from his nation’s Olympic Trials.

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1 year ago

How do you pronounce her name?

1 year ago

Sato is gonna be dangerous

1 year ago

And JASF still lists 13 relay-only swimmers, interesting…

Konner Scott
1 year ago

Whatever the individual choices/politics that led to this decision, the fact that she’s COMPETING AT THE OLYMPICS for a major swimming country after surviving leukemia is unbelievable.

Personal Best
1 year ago

So happy to know she’s racing at her home games in any capacity! I hope she has a remarkable games and enjoys them fully.

1 year ago

If that was hers and her team’s choice then great…

1 year ago

If it’s her choice, great. If it wasnt her choice… stupid stupid decision by Japan.

Reply to  Penguin
1 year ago


Reply to  Samesame
1 year ago

From the limited information I know about this incredible young woman (and elite athletes in general), it would have to take a strongly given doctor’s recommendation to make her refrain from swimming individual events. The potential schedule can’t be much more physically taxing than the training Im sure she’s been doing.

Reply to  Penguin
1 year ago

Agreed 1000 likes worth…

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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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