Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee diagnosed with leukemia
Japan's swim queen Rikako Ikee, a poster girl for next year's Tokyo Olympics, has been diagnosed with leukemia, 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 leukemia. I still can't believe it myself and 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 country.
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-meter butterfly.
Ikee told fans she was determined to beat her illness after being forced to abandon her training camp in Australia.
"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."
She would miss this year's world championships in S. Korea as a strong favorite in the 100-meter butterfly, while also a threat in the 200-meter freestyle.