Tokyo, Japan, May 18, 2020: Asian Games MVP Rikako Ikee has revealed her new hairstyle on Instagram as she continues to recover from leukemia.
Showing her short hair to the public for the first time since being diagnosed with leukemia in February 2019, the Japanese swimmer spoke from her heart during a video and text message in collaboration with Olympic World Partner SK-II.
"Today, for the first time, I'm showing everyone the way I look right now", the 19-year-old Ikee said. "To me it's a miracle I'm alive. Just being here is a miracle in itself.
"As a swimmer, I don't wear makeup and there's no hiding your muscles in the pool. Now I just present myself as I am".
Ikee was released from hospital in December 2019 after 10 months of treatment. She resumed training in February and had a dip in the pool on March 17 - her first swim in 406 days.
"I think when I get back in the pool my true feelings will burst out," Ikee said. "I've got over the hardest part and I'm on the road to recovery.”
But then came COVID-19 – and the world ground to a halt.
The Tokyo-born swimmer hopes the tough journey she's led - and will continue to lead as she aims for Paris 2024 - can help inspire athletes as well as those leading the battle against the pandemic.
"A year ago I swore that I would not be beaten in this fight against myself," she said. "Thanks to my family and friends, and everyone else who supported me, I managed to overcome the illness.
"We are not alone. I hope the day when we do not have to live without fear arrives soon. There is an exit to every tunnel. We have to get through this, hand in hand.”
Ikee won six gold medals and two silver medals in the Jakarta pool at the 18th Asian Games in 2018 to earn the OCA MVP award and 50,000 USD.