Swimming star Rikako Ikee, who was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year, said Tuesday she has been discharged from hospital and hopes to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The 19-year-old was considered a medal favorite for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but was forced to put all swimming-related activities on hold to focus on treatment since her diagnosis in February.
According to her management agency, she was released from hospital earlier in the month and will not compete at the Tokyo Olympics next summer.
“I have been hospitalized since February, but I was able to leave the hospital after about 10 months,” Ikee said in a handwritten message on social media.
“Concerning the Olympics, I want to work hard with a goal of competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics and winning a medal.”
She will continue making hospital visits, but Ikee said she will start training in water once she decides it is possible with her doctor.
“There were times when I had strong nausea from the medication or a sense of fatigue, but I kept telling myself ‘it’s OK, it’s OK, it will end at some point’,” she said.
Ikee shot to fame in the summer of 2018 in Indonesia, where she was named the first female MVP at the Asian Games after becoming the first swimmer to win six gold medals, all in games-record times.
She holds national records for 50, 100 and 200 meters freestyle, as well as 50 and 100 meters butterfly.
The news of her diagnosis made headlines in Japan, and words of encouragement poured in for the teenage sensation on social media.
Ikee said in March that she would not give up on competing at the 2020 Games and her coach revealed in June that she had resumed light exercise on a stationary bike.
She enrolled at Nihon University’s College of Sports Sciences in April.