Japan swim queen Ikee gets leukaemia hospital respite

Tokyo (AFP) –


Japanese Olympic swimming hope Rikako Ikee, who was diagnosed with leukaemia earlier this year, was last month temporarily discharged from hospital to enjoy some fresh air and time with her family, the athlete said this week on her official website.

The 18-year-old poster girl for next year's Tokyo Olympics revealed that she had been allowed to return home for a few days but has now been readmitted for further treatment.

"There are days I don't feel very well, when I just focus on getting through the day," posted Ikee, who shot to fame at last year's Asian Games where she won a record six gold medals.

"While I'm in hospital I stay motivated by setting goals for myself after I'm discharged."

Ikee revealed in February that she had been diagnosed with leukaemia after experiencing problems during a training camp in Australia.

Japan's swim queen would have been a strong favourite to win 2020 Olympic gold in the 100 metres butterfly and a threat in the 200m freestyle in her home city.

Ikee's coach Jiro Miki said last weekend that she had begun light exercise on a stationary bike in her hospital room.

"While I was out of hospital I enjoyed meals with my family, relaxing and getting lots of fresh air," said Ikee, pictured on her website wearing a beanie hat to cover her hair loss.

"There are times I feel I don't want to go back into hospital," she added. "But I cheer myself up by thinking that it's just a few months of my life."