Japanese sprinter Rikako Ikee‘s return to racing at last month’s Tokyo Special Swimming Tournament was significant on several different levels.
At the top of the list, swim enthusiasts everywhere were simply happy to see the multi-national record holder and 2016 Olympic finalist even dive back in the water, considering the leukemia-stricken ace had been in the hospital nearly the entirety of 2019 following her February diagnosis.
After a 594-day hiatus, Ikee was back to racing in Tokyo, having taken on the women’s 50m free and producing a solid mark of 26.32. We posted a video of the star emerging from the water, clearly overwhelmed with emotions, which demonstrated how much merely the ability to compete again, no matter the outcome, meant to the 2018 Asian Games MVP.
As another significant milestone, we pointed out at the time how Ikee’s 26.32 50m free effort dipped under the 26.86 qualifying mark for October’s Japan Student Championships.
Now, with one month to go to that annual prestigious meet, Asian media is confirming that Ikee is indeed intending on racing at the event.
Ikee had originally targeted the Student Championships as her first meet back. However, due to the coronavirus, the Japanese Swimming Federation (JASF) decided that only the top 32-40 fastest athletes would be invited to the championships, with times franked from April 2019 onward.
Ikee’s time ranks the Pan Pacs gold medalist high enough, 17th in fact, which enables her to compete at the Japan Student Championships.