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Rikako Ikee Wins Bronze in 50-Meter Butterfly in Asian Games
15:41 JST, September 30, 2023
HANGZHOU, China — Rikako Ikee, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2019, won the bronze medal in the women’s 50-meter butterfly on Day 7 of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, on Friday.
The event was the swimmer’s last at this year’s games and a race that she has particularly focused on in training this year.
“I was determined to go home with a medal,” the 23-year-old Ikee said as she was asked about individual events. The swimmer clocked 26.02 seconds and achieved her goal of earning a medal.
After a slow start, Ikee accelerated in the second half of the race and managed to make the podium by a hair. “With my fingertips stretched, I swam to the end,” she said. “It was a good race for me to get in the habit of winning again.”
“Returning to competitions early [after leukemia treatment] had its good and bad. I’m the only one who knows my pain and frustration,” said Ikee.
Many people around her were excited to see her competing again, but the swimmer said, “Every time I compete, I feel I’m not back yet.” Ikee has yet to swim the times she wants and seems to continue to struggle.
The athlete was forced to skip the 100-meter freestyle after contracting influenza before the Asian Games. She competed in a total of four individual and relay events, but unlike the previous games in 2018, where she garnered six titles, this time she won two medals — a silver in the 4×100 freestyle relay and Friday’s bronze.
“I’m hoping to shine as a swimmer once again. For that, I shall endure the hardships now to make the most of them the next time,” said Ikee.
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