Swimming

Ikee Rikako books spot at Japan's Olympic qualifiers with first butterfly podium since cancer comeback

The leukaemia survivor swam sub-1:00 at the Tokyo Open, in her first 100m butterfly race following treatment, to move a step closer to a place at the Games in 2021

By Andrew Binner ·

Japanese swimmer Ikee Rikako is quickly making up for lost time.

On Saturday (20th February), the Rio 2016 Olympic finalist and national record holder took part in her first butterfly race since returning from cancer treatment.

She looked assured in the 100m butterfly on day one of the 2021 Tokyo Open swimming meet, finishing in 59.44 seconds to take third place, behind winner Makino Hiroko, with Kizu Kichihana in second.

The bronze medal comes just two weeks after the Leukaemia survivor stood on the podium for the first time since returning to competition in August, with a second-place finish in the 50-metre freestyle at the Japan Open.

Rikako Ikee finished third in her first 100m butterfly since returning to competition.

But there is a deeper significance to the 20-year-old's performance in Tokyo.

Her time has also qualified her to compete at the 2021 Japan Swim meet in April, which Japan's only Olympic-qualifying event ahead of the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2021.

“I can’t say that I’m aiming for it now. When we start to get results that are world-class, we will think about it at that time," Ikee said after the race, of her chances of competing at her home Olympics.

The Japanese Swimming Federation's Olympic qualifying standard is 57.10 seconds, and her national record stands at 56.08 seconds.

Rikako Ikee at Rio 2016

Rikako Ikee broke the Japanese 100m butterfly record twice on her way to fi...