Japan’s Rikako Ikee Resumes Light Exercise Amid Leukemia Treatment

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

According to the Japan Times, Japanese teenage swimming star Rikako Ikee has resumed light exercise while she continues to battle leukemia. Her coach, Jiro Miki, told the news outlet on June 1.

After being diagnosed with leukemia in February of this year, the report says that she has started training on a stationary bike that she brought to her hospital room for the last three weeks. She is increasing or decreasing her workout load depending on her condition, Miki reported.

“She is getting better day by day. She is really battling it with a positive mindset, so sometimes she even gives me energy. I’m really impressed,” Miki said.

Ikee skipped the Japanese National Championships in April, which served as Japan’s qualifying meet for the 2019 World Championships. Ikee is the national record holder in the 50, 100, and 200 free and 50 and 100 fly, and was named the MVP of the 2018 Asian Games after winning six gold medals, all in record time.

“I want to improve as a coach for when she comes back,” Miki said. “We will want to support her return, even if the possibility of that is just one percent.” 

Further details on her return to the pool have yet to be confirmed. Ikee has not posted any personal updates on her social media accounts since March, but wrote the following on her website on May 8th:

I am very appreciative of all the encouraging messages and letters I have received. Thank you so much.

My medical treatment is proceeding smoothly. My recent life, when my physical condition permits, has given me the opportunity to enjoy things that I was not able to do when I was swimming, such as enjoying coloring books and puzzles, and watching movies. When I look outside every day, I imagine how wonderful it will be to feel the fresh breeze of the season and to get wet in the rain. These are some of the things I look forward to doing after I am released from hospital. I expect this will be a prolonged period of hospitalization and treatment, however, I will stay positive by thinking about what I would like to accomplish and what I will be enjoying in the days to come.

Honestly speaking, I sometimes become discouraged. However, I feel a surge of gratitude as a result of all the encouraging words I have received, and I promise myself I will not be defeated and will endure until I am able to overcome my illness.

I would like to believe that I now understand, although maybe not fully, how athletes and those with the same illness or condition as myself feel. I will always keep in mind that I am not alone, and I would like you to do the same. We will persevere together.

I will try my best to be able to announce good news as soon as possible to everyone waiting for me to return. I am so appreciative of your continued support. Thank you.

The Japan Times contributed to this report. 

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Virgil Guerrero
Virgil Guerrero
4 years ago

To RIKAKO … please continue with your positive approach in battling your condition. With the help of God you will fully recover and swim super fast again. Looking forward to seeing in the competitive pool very soon.

Shindig Smith
4 years ago


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