Rikako Ikee: Being Alive Is A Miracle As She Looks To Inspire Following Leukemia Battle

Rikako Ikee: Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Rikako Ikee, the six-time 2018 Asian Games champion, has described being alive as “a miracle in itself” in a social media post.

The Japanese 19-year-old was diagnosed with leukemia in February 2019 and subsequently underwent 10 months of treatment before leaving hospital in December.

The 2018 Pan Pacific 100 fly champion returned to the water for the first time in 406 days in March, days before the postponement of the 2020 Olympics in her native Tokyo in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ikee now sports short hair and is proud to “present myself as I am”.

She posted to Instagram, saying:

“Today for the first time, I’m showing everyone the way I look right now.

“To me, it’s a miracle I’m alive. Just being here is a miracle in itself.

“As a swimmer, I don’t wear makeup and there’s no hiding your muscles in the pool. Now I just present myself as I am.”

With health her clear priority, it is impossible to measure where and when Ikee will next compete.

But she anticipates feeling overwhelming emotion, saying:

“I think when I get back in the pool, my true feelings will burst out.

“I’ve gotten over the hardest part and I’m on the road to recovery.”

Now she hopes that she can help inspire others including athletes who have had to contend with the postponement of Tokyo 2020 and those who have had to face COVID-19 head on.

“A year ago, I swore that I would not be beaten in this fight against myself.

“Thanks to my family and friends, and everyone else who supported me, I managed to overcome the illness.

“We are not alone. I hope the day when we do not have to live without fear arrives soon.

“There is an exit to every tunnel. We have to get through this, hand in hand.”