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Rikako Ikee expresses gratitude for outpouring of support after leukemia diagnosis


Swimming sensation Rikako Ikee expressed gratitude on Wednesday for the messages of encouragement she received following her announcement that she has been diagnosed with leukemia.

“Thank you for the many messages since yesterday,” the 18-year-old Tokyo Olympic gold medal hopeful said on Twitter, a day after her announcement shocked the country.

She said that she was heartened by the many comments that said people have registered for bone-marrow banks or had their blood transfused.

“I think these (messages) give hope to not only me but also to those who are going through something difficult like me,” she said.

Ikee, who holds multiple national records, revealed the diagnosis after cutting short her training camp in Australia. She has been hospitalized since receiving her diagnosis.

The teenager has said she will skip April’s national championships, which serve as a qualifier for the world championships, in order to undergo treatment.

“Of course, my competitive swimming career is important. But for now, I want to aim for a complete recovery and battle this disease with the support from people around me, without rushing,” she said.

Ikee made history at last summer’s Asian Games in Jakarta, where she was named the games’ first female MVP after becoming the first swimmer to win six gold medals, with all six in games-record times.

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