TOKYO, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- Japanese young swimming star Rikako Ikee, a gold medal hopeful for Tokyo 2020 Olympics, announced Tuesday that she has been diagnosed with leukemia and will suspend competition.
The 18-year-old who boasts multiple national records, made the announcement on Twitter, shocking the whole nation.
"I still can't believe it and am in a state of confusion," Ikee tweeted after she cut short a training camp in Australia and returned to Japan. "But it's also a disease that can be fully cured if treated properly."
The athlete said that in order to receive treatment, she will skip the national championships in April, as well as the qualifying events for the world championships.
"I will rest a little and dedicate myself to treatment," she said. "I will strive to show you an even stronger version of myself. Thank you for your encouragement and warm thoughts."
Masaaki Yoshida, a vice chairman with her corporate sponsor Rennaisance, said in a press conference on Tuesday that the athlete is now hospitalized and it is believed that the disease is still at its early stages.
Ikee's coach Jiro Miki said that she performed poorly at a meet prior to the training camp in Australia, which made him assume she was suffering from fatigue. As doctors recommended further examinations, Ikee urgently returned to Japan on Friday after her diagnosis was confirmed.
According to Miki, it is not entirely impossible for her to attend the Tokyo Olympic Games.
However, Japan Swimming Federation vice chairman Koji Ueno said that there will not be any special qualifying exemptions for her, and that her likely absence from the Olympics will influence Japan's performance in the relay events.
Ikee won six gold medals with all six within games-record times at last summer's Asian Games in Jakarta, an unprecedented achievement in swimming so far, and was named the games' first female MVP.
She also holds the national records of 50, 100 and 200 meters in freestyle, as well as those of 50 and 100 meters in butterfly.