On the heels of 19-year-old Rikako Ikee having been announced as a keynote speaker at an Olympic countdown event in Tokyo, Japan, the Olympian has now also revealed the time frame for her first official race back.
Ikee is still in rehabilitation mode after having spent nearly a year in the hospital undergoing treatments for acute lymphocytic leukemia. Just months after having earned the first-ever MVP title at an Asian Games in 2018, Ikee revealed her diagnosis in February of 2019 and was only released from the hospital in December of that year after intense chemotherapy treatments.
Since her careful return to both pool and gym, the teen has switched up coaches, leaving previous mentor Jiro Miki for Isamu Nishizaki, a coach at Renaissance. Nishizaki joined Renaissance in 2000 and served as the Japanese National Team coach at the 2015 Junior Pan Pacific Championships.
Ikee said she is in the pool four times a week and has weekly weight-training sessions and says she is now targeting the Japan Intercollegiate Championships, an annual meet slated for October.
“My current goal is the Japan intercollegiate championships,” Ikee said. “I’m practicing hard under the belief there will be a tournament.”
“I feel like I’m getting stronger day by day,” she said. “I think my swimming ability has returned to about the level in my first or second year of junior high school.”
Ikee reiterates that she is still targeting 2024 Olympics, as opposed to next year’s Summer Games that were postponed from 2020.
“(The Tokyo Games) were postponed for a year, and it was expected I would compete, but I’m aiming for 2024. I’m hoping to build a solid foundation since I’m no longer tied down by next year’s Olympics.”
Last month SwimSwam conducted an exclusive interview with Ikee, who owns 11 individual Japanese national records. Describing her current health condition as stable, Ikee says, “I go to the hospital once or twice a month for regular medical checkups.”
Quotes courtesy of The Manichi.