TOKYO, JAPAN The 18-year-old tweeted on Tuesday, Japan's swim queen Rikako Ikee, a poster girl for next year's Tokyo Olympics, has been diagnosed with leukaemia.
Ikee said: "After feeling unwell I returned in haste from Australia and following tests I was diagnosed with leukaemia. I still can't believe it myself and I'm in a state of confusion."
Ikee shot to fame at last year's Asian Games, where she captured a record six gold medals to fire a warning for the 2020 Olympics in her home city.
"If treated properly it's a disease that can be beaten," said Ikee, who confirmed she will withdraw from the Japanese championships in April.
"I will devote myself to my treatment and strive to be able to show an even stronger Rikako Ikee."
She would have gone into this year's world championships in South Korea as a strong favourite in the 100m fly, while also a threat in the 200m freestyle.
"Pressure for me is something I thrive on," she said. "There will be a lot of Japanese fans cheering for me at the Tokyo Olympics in my home city -- maybe even some from overseas too -- and that's going to give me great strength."
"The more fans that come, the stronger I'll be," added Ikee. "When it comes to swimming, I just really hate to lose."