Leukemia survivor and Japanese swimming superstar Rikako Ikee, 20, has qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Sunday April 4, at Japan’s national swimming championships.
Just two years after she was diagnosed with cancer in February 2019, Ikee came back stronger than ever in the pool and swam a time of 57.77 in the 100m fly last week, allowing her to secure a place in the Olympic women’s medley relay team (she won’t take part in any individual race).
The national championships took place at the new swimming venue for the Tokyo Olympics, giving all the participating athletes a taste of what will be one of the highlights of their swimming career, in less than four months.
Coming out of the pool in tears, the winner said to Associated Press:
“I was not expecting to win the 100m at all, and I was feeling far less confident than during the Olympic qualifiers five years ago.”
“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.”
Ikee, an inspiration to all of us for her resilience and perseverance, had always set her goals for the Paris 2024 Olympics and was not expecting to be at her best form for her Games on home soil.
Her objectives now might have slightly turned with this amazing and encouraging win!
Rikako Ikee finished sixth in the 100m butterfly in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, while she claimed five World Junior titles and three bronze medals at the World Swimming Championships (25m). You can check out her tally and profile on FINA new athletes section HERE.
Many other swimmers around the world celebrated her accomplishment.
The Fédération Internationale de Natation, FINA (founded in 1908) is the governing body for aquatics worldwide.
Its five disciplines – Swimming, Open Water Swimming, Diving, Water Polo and Artistic Swimming – are all included in the Olympic programme. High Diving is on the World Championships programme since 2013. FINA organises World Championships, World Swimming Championships in 25m-pool and World Masters Championships every two years. FINA counts 209 affiliated National Federations on the five continents and has its headquarters in Lausanne (SUI).
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