Japan’s swim queen Rikako Ikee, a genuine gold medal hope at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, has been diagnosed with leukemia.
The shock announcement arrived to the world via the 18-year-old’s Twitter account.
Ikee had been in Australia for a three-week training camp when she fell ill and returned home to undergo tests.
“After feeling unwell I returned in haste from Australia and following tests I was diagnosed with leukemia,” she wrote.
“I still can’t believe it myself and I’m in a state of confusion. But it is also a disease that can be fully cured if treated properly.”
Ikee captured a record six gold medals at last year’s Asian Games.
Her performances earned the nod as Japan’s flag bearer for the closing ceremony and fired a warning for the 2020 Olympics in her home city of Tokyo.
She has been tipped to push for gold on several fronts, in particular in the women’s 100 metres butterfly.
Ikee, who holds multiple Japanese records, assured fans she was determined to beat her illness.
“I will devote myself to my treatment and strive to be able to show an even stronger Rikako Ikee,” she wrote.
She will not take part in April’s national championships.