Rikako Ikee: Battle against leukaemia 'harder than I thought'

The Japanese swimming star has spoken about her treatment for the first time since her diagonsis

Japanese swimming sensation Rikako Ikee revealed on Wednesday that her battle against leukaemia has been much more challenging than she thought.

Only three weeks after announcing the diagnosis the 18-year-old shared her emotions with her 434,000 followers on Twitter.

"It's tens of times, hundreds of times, thousand of times harder than I expected. I haven't been able to eat for more than three days. But I don't want to lose."

Ikee is a one of the potential stars of Tokyo 2020 after winning six golds at last year's Asian Games and setting multiple Japanese national records.

Falling ill at training camp

Ikee's announcement in February sent shock waves across Japan and the sports world. The swimmer revealed that she received the diagnosis after falling ill at a training camp in Australia.

She has subsequently stopped all swimming-related activities to concentrate on her treatment.

Meanwhile support has been pouring in for her from all over the world.

After initially announcing the news on her Twitter account, the swim star thanked "those who have encouraged me".

"I still cannot believe this and it's a confusing situation for me. But with treatment, this is a disease which can be cured." - Rikako Ikee

Just five weeks ago, Ikee was named Japan's Swimmer of the Year for 2018 after clinching six golds at the Asian Games in Jakarta.

Born in Tokyo, she was set to carry the hopes and dreams of the host nation in the pool.

But Ikee said she had "no choice" but to miss April's national championships which serve as qualifiers for July's World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

She added, "I will now take a little rest and focus on treatment so that I can show an even stronger Rikako Ikee as soon as possible."

The Japan Swimming Federation later held an urgent news conference with an update on Ikee's condition.