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Rikako Ikee, Japan swim star back from leukemia, mulls Tokyo Olympic run

Rikako Ikee

Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee reacts after competing in a 50-meter freestyle race at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center on August 29, 2020. (Photo by - / JAPAN POOL / AFP) / Japan OUT (Photo by -/JAPAN POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

JAPAN POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Rikako Ikee, the Japanese swim star coming back from leukemia, reportedly said she is considering moving up her Olympic comeback bid from 2024 to 2021.

Ikee, who was a Tokyo Olympic medal contender before her February 2019 diagnosis, said she would like to vie for a 2021 Olympic spot if possible, according to Sankei Sports, a major daily sports newspaper in Japan.

Ikee, 20, previously repeated that her goal was the 2024 Paris Games.

“I think my swimming ability has returned to about the level in my first or second year of junior high school,” Ikee said in July, according to a Kyodo News translation, after being discharged from a 10-month hospitalization in December 2019.

Two months ago, Ikee clocked 25.62 seconds in a 50m freestyle, ranking fifth among Japanese women in 2020. No more than two women can make the Olympic team per individual event, and Japan’s federation could also require a minimum time.

Before her leukemia diagnosis, Ikee won the 100m butterfly at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, the year’s major international meet. She also took silver in the 200m freestyle ahead of Katie Ledecky. She later earned six golds, including four in individual events, at the 2018 Asian Games.

Ikee finished fifth in the 100m butterfly as a 16-year-old at the Rio Olympics.

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