Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee seals Tokyo 2020 place after leukaemia battle

Rikako Ikee

Rikako Ikee has inspired many after her emphatic win in the 100m butterfly to secure her place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The 20-year-old pushed to a 57.77 second finish during Japan's Olympic swimming trials, qualifying for the Games in her home nation just two years after being diagnosed with leukaemia.

Ikee has qualified for a spot in her country's 4x100m relay, but will have the chance to also earn an individual place during this week's 50m and 100m freestyle races.

She was hospitalised for treatment for about 10 months before she made her long awaited return to training back in March last year.

"I was really happy but also really surprised," the swimmer said of her victory. "I didn't know what had just happened. It was a feeling I had never experienced before.

"I thought if it wasn't to be, it wasn't to be. If I did get in it would be good experience to take to the next Olympics."

Ikee previously represented Japan at Rio 2016, participating in four individual races and three relay events. She broke her own national record during the heats of the 100m butterfly, clocking a time of 57.27. Although she finished outside of a medal position at the Olympics, she would go on to up her game during the 2018 Asian Games.

The tournament, hosted in Indonesia, saw Ikee become the first swimmer in history to win six gold medals at a single Asian Games. She also scooped two silver medals and won the Most Valuable Player award, becoming the first female athlete to ever win the accolade.

The 20-year-old's leukaemia diagnosis came in 2019 during a training camp in Australia. But since receiving the news in February, Ikee has fought her way back onto the world stage and will represent Japan once again at the Olympics this summer.

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