Swimming: Leukemia survivor Rikako Ikee defies all odds with Olympic berth

Ikee pumped her fist and received a hug from her competitor in the next lane after finishing in 57.77 seconds, qualifying her for the 4×100-meter medley relay at this summer’s Games.

She then burst into tears and took a long time to come out of the water after being overwhelmed by the emotion of her accomplishment.

“I’m so happy right now,” the 20-year-old said in a poolside interview.

“I never thought I could win the 100. I was a lot less confident than I was in Olympic qualifying five years ago. I thought winning was something that would only happen in the distant future.”

Ikee was expected to be one of Japan’s top medal prospects at the Tokyo Olympics before she was diagnosed with leukemia in 2019.

She got back into shape and returned to competition in August of last year. But she said she was not targeting Tokyo and that the Paris 2024 Olympics were her goal.

“I wasn’t really aiming for the win,” Ikee said. “No matter where I come from, I feel happy to be here.”

READ  Swimming: Ikee secures Olympic qualifying spot after leukemia treatment

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