Japanese swimming superstar Rikako Ikee has posted her first social media message since beginning treatment for leukemia, a disease for which she recently revealed her diagnosis at just 18 years of age.
“It’s tens of times, several hundred times, several thousand times harder than I thought,” she wrote on Twitter. “I haven’t eaten in more than three days. But I don’t want to lose.”
— 池江 璃花子 (@rikakoikee) March 6, 2019
The first-ever female Asian Games MVP first revealed her diagnosis at the end of February. Ikee had been in Australia training alongside Brit Alys Thomas and Aussie Emma McKeon, but apparently cut that camp short and returned to Japan when the leukemia diagnosis was discovered. Her coach Jiro Miki said Ikee appeared to be fatigued and he said he ‘had never seen her breathing as heavily as that’ while training down under.
Ikee was poised to take multiple titles at this April’s Japanese Championships, the qualifying meet for the 2019 FINA World Championships. However, she will instead be continuing treatment. Her exact type of leukemia has not been made known to the public.