TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee, who won six titles at last year’s Asian Games and was considered a strong medal contender for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, said yesterday she had been diagnosed with leukaemia.
The 18-year-old was named Japanese Swimmer of the Year last month after her record-breaking exploits in the Jakarta pool.
“I was feeling ill and urgently came home from Australia, underwent testing and the diagnosis was leukaemia,” Ikee wrote on Twitter.
“I can’t believe it, it’s a confusing situation. But with treatment this is a disease that can be cured.”
The diagnosis will deprive the world junior 50 metres freestyle, 50m butterfly and 100m butterfly champion of the chance to race at the senior world championships in Gwangju, South Korea later this year.
Ikee, who swam the fastest time in the world in the 100m butterfly and second fastest in the 50m butterfly last year, said she would miss Japan’s swimming trials to focus on treatment.
“I am going to take some time off and focus on treatment and as soon as possible I want to show an even stronger Rikako Ikee,” she added.