18-year-old Rikako Ikee was just named ‘MVP’ of the 2018 Asian Games, becoming the first woman ever to claim the award. While competing in Jakarta at the Asian Games, Ikee amassed an incredible 6 gold medals, including individual titles in the 50m free, 100m free, 50m fly and 100m fly. Her contribution to her nation’s 4 x 100m free and 4 x 100m medley relays also helped Japan gather gold in those races.
With her major hardware haul, Ikee became the first swimmer to win 6 gold medals at a single Asian Games. Adding in her silvers in the 4 x 200m freestyle and mixed medley relays, Ikee raced her way to 8 medals in all, equaling the single Asian Games Record held by North Korean shooter So Gin-man.
The first woman to win the award, Ikee represents the 4th swimmer to have been acknowledged since the Games’ inception. Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima was named MVP in 2002, Korea’s Park Tae Hwan in 2006 and Japan’s Kosuke Hagino at the last edition in 2014.
The Chairman of the OCA MVP Award Selection Committee, Raja Randhir Singh, “There have been some remarkable performances by several athletes in different sports in Jakarta and Palembang but the achievements of Rikako Ikee really stood out and impressed all members of the panel.
“On behalf of the OCA I would like to congratulate Miss Ikee on her record-breaking achievements. She is not only the first female athlete to win six gold medals at a single edition of the Asian Games but also the first female winner of our OCA MVP Award.” (South China Morning Post)
With the title, Ikee was given the OCA MVP Trophy along with US$50,000 in prize money.