2021 JAPAN SWIM (OLYMPIC TRIALS)
Personifying perseverance, 20-year-old leukemia survivor Rikako Ikee has taken her second title at these 2021 Japan Olympic Trials, qualifying for her second relay berth in the process.
In addition to having already claimed 100m fly gold here and capturing a spot on the Japanese medley relay for Tokyo, Ikee just punched an elite time of 53.98 to snag gold in the women’s 100m free as well. Although she was off the 53.31 individual Olympic qualifying standard set forth by the Japanese Swimming Federation (JASF), Ikee has proven once again that she is a fighter.
To fully grasp the impact of her qualification, here is a very high-level timeline of Ikee’s remarkable journey:
2018 – Pan Pacs champion in the 100m fly; Becomes first-ever female MVP of the Asian Games
Feb 2019 – Makes leukemia diagnosis known; spends remainder of the year in the hospital undergoing intense treatments
December 2019 – Discharged from the hospital
March 2020 – Cleared for minimal workouts
May 2020 – Ramped up to 4 in-pool workouts/week
August 2020 – Returned to racing at the Tokyo Special Swimming Tournament
February 2021 – Raced at the Japan Open
April 2021 – Qualifies for the Olympic Games
Post-race, Ikee told Kyodo News, “I’m happy to have come below 54 seconds, but I wanted a little faster time, honestly speaking. This went was all about getting into the top four and beating the qualification standard.”
Ikee still has the 50m free individual race yet to swim here at this meet so she’ll have one more chance for individual qualification.