Japanese swimming star Rikako Ikee diagnosed with leukemia

FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2016, file photo, Rikako Ikee, of Japan, competes in the women's 100-meter butterfly final at the FINA World Swimming Championships short-course Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016 in Windsor, Ontario. Ikee, the favorite for the 100-meter butterfly for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has been diagnosed with leukemia. Ikee said on her verified Twitter account Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, her illness surfaced when she got tests after returning from Australia not feeling well. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 24, 2018, file photo, Japan's Rikako Ikee holds up her gold medal after winning the women's 50m freestyle final during the swimming competition at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Ikee, the favorite for the 100-meter butterfly for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has been diagnosed with leukemia. Ikee said on her verified Twitter account Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, her illness surfaced when she got tests after returning from Australia not feeling well. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2018, file photo, Japan's Rikako Ikee poses on the podium after winning the women's 100m freestyle final during the swimming competition at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Ikee, the favorite for the 100-meter butterfly for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has been diagnosed with leukemia. Ikee said on her verified Twitter account Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, her illness surfaced when she got tests after returning from Australia not feeling well. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

TOKYO — Japanese swimming star Rikako Ikee has been diagnosed with leukemia less than 18 months before the Olympics in Tokyo.

The 18-year-old Ikee won six gold medals at the Asian Games in Jakarta last year and was tipped to be one of the faces of the 2020 Olympics in her home country.

She posted on her verified Twitter account Tuesday that her illness surfaced when she got tests after returning from a training trip to Australia.

"I still can't believe it, and I am in a state of confusion," she wrote.

Officials of the Japan Swimming Federation called a news conference and said Ikee was at a hospital being treated.

Ikee expressed hopes for recovery but acknowledged she could not compete for a while.

"I will take some days off for now and focus on my treatment to do my utmost so that I can show you as soon as possible an even more powerful Rikako Ikee," she said.

Ikee is among the world's best in the 100-meter butterfly, an event where she is close to breaking the world record of 55.48 seconds held by Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden. She swam 56.08 last year and talked about being able to break that mark.

"If everything goes well, I think I will be able to set the world record," she told The Associated Press in an interview after being selected as MVP at the Asian Games.

Her other top race is the 200-meter freestyle.

Ikee wrote optimistically on Twitter about her chance for a recovery.

"It is a sickness for which there is recovery with proper treatment," she said. "It would make me happy if you would all continue to warmly watch over me."

Ikee has been a highly regarded junior swimmer and finished sixth in the 100-fly almost three years ago in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Must Read

Nadal, Federer cruise into Shanghai Masters quarterfinals

Oct 12, 2017

Rafael Nadal has won his 14th consecutive match to reach the Shanghai Masters quarterfinals,...

Nadal, Federer advance to Shanghai final for 38th encounter

Oct 14, 2017

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will face each for the 38th time after advancing to the Shanghai...

Fortunes can change quickly in the world of golf

Oct 25, 2017

Johnson, Matsuyama, Rahm lead the field at HSBC Champions in final World Golf Championship of the...

Vettel takes pole in China, and Ferrari looks like it's back

Apr 14, 2018

Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari will be on pole position for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix as he looks...

Lin falls to Shi in badminton 3rd rd; Axelsen, Tai advance

Aug 2, 2018

Five-time champion Lin Dan fell to Chinese compatriot Shi Yuqi again while No. 1s Viktor Axelsen...

AseanCoverage is a next-gen news site focusing exclusively on online news from South East Asia.

Contact us: sales[at]aseancoverage.com