The Japanese swimmer Ikee Rikako qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games when she returned to sports after a battle with leukemia.
She participated in the women’s 100-meter butterfly finals at the national championship.
Although the 20-year-old swimmer had a slow start, she was soon in the second place after the first 50 meters.
She then picked up speed and succeeded in overtaking the front runner and won the race. Her time was 57.77 seconds.
It Was Unimaginable, Says Rikako
With tears of joy, Rikako said she thought it would be long before she could win a race.
And, she didn’t imagine she could actually qualify for the Olympic Games, even as a relay member.
When she realized she won, she remembered everything she went through in order to get here. She was in shock and says she’ll need some time for everything to sink in.
Unfortunately, she got the leukemia diagnosis back in 2019, February. She underwent the necessary medical treatment, including a 10-month stay in a hospital.
She got back to competing in August, 2020.
A Successful Return to Doing What She Does Best after a Cancer Battle
Since she came back to swimming competitions, Rikako has been part of 5 competitions.
In fact she managed to finish a 50-meter butterfly race with a time that allowed her to qualify for the finals of the 2019 World Championship.
The International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, congratulated Rikako and said how ‘Olympians never give up’. And, he added that he can’t wait to see her swim in Tokyo.