Japan’s Olympic poster girl Ikee diagnosed with leukaemia

TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese swim queen Rikako Ikee, the poster girl for next year’s Tokyo Olympics, has been diagnosed with leukaemia, the 18-year-old tweeted on Tuesday.

In a shock announcement, Ikee said, “After feeling unwell I returned in haste from Australia, and following tests I was diagnosed with leukaemia. I still can’t believe it myself. I’m in a state of confusion.”

Ikee shot to fame at last year’s Asian Games, where she captured a record six gold medals to fire a warning for the 2020 Olympics in her home city.

The teenage superstar, who holds a string of national records, has been tipped to push for gold on several fronts, in particular in the women’s 100-metre butterfly.

Ikee told fans she was determined to beat her illness after being forced to abandon her training camp on Australia’s Gold Coast.

“If treated properly it’s a disease that can be beaten,” said Ikee, who confirmed she will withdraw from the Japanese championships in April.

“I will devote myself to my treatment and strive to be able to show an even stronger Rikako Ikee.”

Japan’s swim queen Rikako Ikee celebrates her 50m freestyle gold at the Asian Games in Jakarta last August. Ikee, 18, says she is determined to beat leukaemia. – AFP