The 2016 Olympic finalist and 2018 Asian Games MVP was diagnosed with leukemia in February of 2019 and spent the majority of last year in the hospital undergoing intensive treatments.
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.
Armed with the victory of merely diving back into the pool to race, Ikee is keeping her ultimate goal of competing at the 2024 Olympic Games at heart as she has decided not to compete at the 2020 Japan Swim in December.
The meet was originally scheduled for April and would have represented the sole qualifying opportunity for the nation’s swimmers to snag roster spots at the home-based Olympic Games in Tokyo. However, as the Games were postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Japan Swim was moved to December as a non-qualifying affair. There will be a 2021 version in April as the Olympic qualifier.
As revealed by Asian media today, Ikee has decided she will most likely not participate at the Japan Swim, instead she will be focusing on improving her health and strengths.
“Right now, my main focus is to return to my abilities. I want to do it step-by-step,” said Ikee.
As such, we’ve most likely seen the last race of 2020 for Ikee but that only stirs up promise for what the inspiring athlete may be able to produce in 2021 after investing more time in her recovery.