Rikako Ikee Books Spot At Olympic Trials; Plays Down Hopes For Making Tokyo 2020 Team

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Rikako Ikee Books Spot At Olympic Trials; Plays Down Hopes For Making Tokyo 2020 Team

Rikako Ikee, the six-time 2018 Asian Games champion, booked her spot at April’s Olympic qualification meet after dipping inside the required standard at the Kosuke Kitatjima Cup.

The 20-year-old made public she had been diagnosed with leukemia in February 2019 and spent much of that year receiving treatment in hospital before being discharged in December.

Ikee, who won four medals at the 2018 Pan-Pacific Championships in Tokyo, returned to competition in August 2020 and stated her long-term goal was to compete at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

On Saturday, she posted 56.16 in the heats at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre, well within the entry standard of 56.53 for the national championships.

Ikee lowered her time to 55.35 to place fourth in the final with Natsumi Sakai stopping the clock first at 54.48.

There were mixed feelings for the five-time world junior champion who told reporters:

“I wanted to qualify for the nationals and I’m glad that I did but I finished fourth again. It’s really frustrating.

“I wasn’t too fast or too slow. It’s not a bad time for the year’s first race but this event is personal to me because I set the Japanese record (of 52.79) in 2018.

“I’m happy though that I was able to compete in the 100 free at this meet. It’s a tough loss but I can only get better from here.”

She insisted her aim was not on the Tokyo Games, around which speculation swirls because of the pandemic, but rather a focus on each stepping stone, saying:

“This was a painful reminder that competition is unforgiving.

“It’s not about my aiming for the Tokyo Olympics, but focusing on the task at hand, calmly putting in the work in practice.”


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