Rikako Ikee is a Japanese swimmer, she has had countless victories in the past in various competitions. Due to her extraordinary achievements, it was highly expected that she will be on the top list during the Tokyo Olympics. She was considered the MVP in the 2018 Asian games.
As per Reuters, in the past, she has won 6 gold medals at the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018. Furthermore, she won two gold medals in two relays along with two silvers. Back in 2016, she gained the sixth position in the 100-meter butterfly race in Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
However, with her champion spirit, she is back and it is after February 2019, that we are getting to see her. She looks confident and ever radiant with the short hair that she so gracefully carries.
“Not having any hair isn’t something to be embarrassed about. Rather, I’m proud of my hair as it is. I’m proud of who I am. I wanted to be myself”. – Ikee Rikako.
With so many achievements, the country had great expectations from Rikako as a home contestant in the Tokyo Olympics. Unfortunately, the swimmer got leukemia and had lost all hope to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.
Being the fighter that she is, it took her almost a year to get treated and start training again. At this point, Rikako had no idea that she would be able to compete in Tokyo and instead focused on the 2024 Olympics that are to be held in Paris
The Covid-19 pandemic changed everything and gave her a chance to compete in her home country as the event got delayed.
Speaking about her feelings she said,
“I thought I wouldn’t be able to win for a long time. But I trained hard to win. And, in the end, I came into the race telling myself I’m back. And so I feel that, even if you go through suffering and pain, your hard work will always be rewarded.”
During the Tokyo Olympic trials, Rikako won the 100-meter butterfly race with a time of 57.77 seconds making her qualify for the 4X100 medley relay races that are to come in the game. It was indeed an emotional moment when Rikako won the 100-meter, pumping her fist, she burst into tears hugging the opponent next to her. She was very happy to be there, as per sources she has lost around 18kgs during her cancer treatment.
According to the Associated Press, after the race she said,
“I was not expecting to win the 100 meters at all, and I was feeling far less confident than during the Olympic qualifiers five years ago. It’s a miracle just to be sitting here – it’s a miracle I’m alive, my diagnosis was a “big turning point in my life.”
In an interview with a Japanese news channel TV Aashi, she expressed how lucky she feels to have survived and come back in the game.
Talking about her experience with cancer, the swimmer wrote on Twitter,
“This is dozens of times, hundreds of times, thousands of times harder than I thought. I’ve had many times where I haven’t been able to eat for three days or more. But I won’t give up.”