Swimmer Rikako Ikee: A smiling face for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Swimmer Rikako Ikee: A smiling face for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Rikako Ikee may very successfully be the smiling face of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a model new star that organizers are sure to promote in the middle of the build-up to the video video games.

The 18-year-old Japanese swimmer has heaps to be snug about.

Capped by a report eight medals on the Asian Video video games – six gold – Ikee has change into an Olympic favorite, notably inside the 100-meter butterfly the place she is chasing the world report.

“If each half goes successfully, I consider I can set the world report,” Ikee talked about, speaking by way of a translator to non-Japanese reporters after swimming ended on Friday. “Nonetheless on the an identical time, it is not easy.”

A promising junior swimmer who licensed for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics two years up to now and accomplished sixth inside the 100 fly, Ikee inside the remaining quite a few weeks has arrived as a rising contender in quite a few events.

The breakthrough started earlier this month inside the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo, competing in direction of excessive swimmers from america, Australia and Canada.

She gained the 100 fly in 56.08 seconds, the quickest time of the 12 months and ahead of the perfect time this season by Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, the Olympic champion, world champion and world record-holder.

Sjostrom holds the world mark at 55.48, and Ikee – pronounced E-kay – is closing in.

Ikee was moreover second on the Pan Pacs inside the 200 freestyle – her second biggest race – merely behind Canadian Taylor Ruck nonetheless ahead of American Katie Ledecky, the five-time Olympic champion who has dominated the freestyle evens from 200- to 1,500-meters.

“I gained confidence after I gained the 100 butterfly, since that’s the major race for me,” she talked about. Her confidence in freestyle was moreover boosted, she talked about, “because of I couldn’t compete successfully with the world’s excessive swimmers in freestyle sooner than. I consider I can compete with the very best swimmers on this planet in these two races.”

Japan is hoping to win 30 gold medals complete on the next Olympics, an daring aim and double its gold-medal take in Rio.

Nations web internet hosting the Olympics usually get a home-field improve. And swimming will in all probability be an infinite part of it, with Japan anticipated to drawback america and China in one of many high-profile sports activities actions on the Olympics.

Japan and China accomplished with 19 gold medals apiece in swimming on the Asian Video video games, every teams testing youthful swimmers and new names in a warmth up for Tokyo.

“We’re getting nearer to the world’s excessive worldwide places little by little, like america, Australia, and China,” Ikee talked about. “After you have a take a look at relay races, you can inform that.”

Furthermore Ikee, quite a few Japanese moreover gained quite a few gold medals particularly particular person races.

Yasuhiro Koseki gained the lads’s 50, 100 and 200 breaststroke, and Daiya Seto took the 200 fly and 400 IM. Satomi Suzuki gained gold inside the ladies’s 50 and 100 breaststroke.

Ikee described the push by Japan to double the gold-medal rely in Tokyo as a “drastic drawback.”

Requested if she felt the stress as a result of the home-country favorite, she talked about “no.” Nonetheless then rolled her eyes and paused to elucidate why. She talked about success bolstered additional teaching, which led to additional medals.

“I do not likely really feel the stress an extreme quantity of,” she talked about. “For me, I purchase vitality from the cheering and stress. I make up my ideas to work more durable, and after I get additional help it turns into by motivation.”

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Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP

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Additional AP sports activities actions: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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