18-year-old Japanese swimming phenom Rikako Ikee was diagnosed with leukemia back in February of this year. Since then, the free and fly specialist has been keeping fans and fellow members of the swimming community updated via her official website.
We reported how the 2018 Asian Games MVP even enrolled in Nihon University’s College of Sports Sciences, despite undergoing treatments.
Now the multiple national record holder has begun the slow process of getting back to exercising, reportedly trying out the stationary bike brought to her hospital room about 3 weeks ago.
Her coach, Olympian Jiro Miki, told Asian media,”She’s getting better day by day. She’s really battling it with a positive mindset, so sometimes she even gives me energy. I’m really impressed.” (Kyodo News)
Miki intends on training Ikee once the swimmer is able to return to competition, but has since taken up a coaching position at the Nihon University Swimming Club.
“I want to improve as a coach for when she comes back,” he said. “We will want to support her return, even if the possibility of that is just 1 percent.”
Ikee competed in the women’s 50m free, 100m free and 100m fly events in Rio, where her highest finish came in the latter event. Ikee finished 5th at just 16 years of age, with the prodigy setting a new National Record with her result.
She has since lowered that mark several times and currently holds the Japanese National Records across the 50m/100m/200m freestyle in both long course and short course, as well as the 50m fly in both formats. She also is the fastest Japanese female ever in the short course 100m IM event.