The 2019 Japanese Swimming Championships wrapped up tonight in Tokyo, but throughout the competition Rikako Ikee‘s absence was felt. The 18-year-old freestyle and fly phenom was diagnosed with Leukemia earlier this year, just months after having won the first-ever female Asian Games MVP.
Ikee has withdrawn from the pool and is focusing on treating the disease, still eyeing a possible run for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic on her home nation’s turf. Not giving up hope with the next edition for the Summer Olympic Games now less than 500 days away, Ikee tweeted last month, “499 days until the Tokyo Olympics. I was late by one day. I will not give up yet!”
In the meantime, however, the spirited young woman is adding school to her demanding schedule, having enrolled at Nihon University’s College of Sports Sciences. (Kyodo News)
Olympic finalist Ikee has joined the swimming club at the University, but reportedly skipped Monday’s enrollment ceremony due to her treatment.
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.