Japanese soccer player Fumiya Hayakawa, who is on the comeback trail after a two-year battle with leukemia, has sent a message of encouragement to teenage swimming star Rikako Ikee following her announcement Tuesday that she has the disease.
Hayakawa, a defender for J-League second-division club Albirex Niigata, put his career on hold after receiving his diagnosis in 2016.
After successful treatment, Albirex unfroze Hayakawa’s contract last November, paving the way for the 25-year-old to eventually return to the pitch.
Hayakawa posted a message Tuesday night on the official Albirex website expressing his support for Ikee, 18, whose announcement earlier in the day shocked the Japanese sports world.
«Without a doubt, the warmth I received from many people has been a great source of strength,» Hayakawa wrote. «That’s why I have a request for people around me as a person who has experienced leukemia — please give Rikako Ikee a lot of warmth and kindness.»
«I myself would like to offer any assistance I can. As a fellow athlete, I hope we can fight together.»
«My greatest hope is that Ms. Ikee can undertake her recovery from illness at her own pace, without feeling the need to compare herself to anyone else.»
Ikee — a multiple national record holder and 2020 Olympic Games gold medal hopeful — announced her diagnosis with leukemia on Twitter after cutting short her training camp in Australia.
She will skip April’s national championships, which serve as a qualifier for the world championships, in order to undergo treatment.
Ikee shot to fame at last summer’s Asian Games in Jakarta, where she was named the Games’ first female MVP after becoming the first swimmer to win six gold medals, with all six in Games-record times.
Albirex unfroze Hayakawa’s contract after receiving medical confirmation that the defender was healthy enough to resume his soccer career.
Hayakawa, who has visited children in hospital during his recovery, is undergoing regular checkups as he continues his comeback bid.
An Albirex youth academy product, Hayakawa made his professional debut with the then-J1 club in 2016 after playing for Tsukuba University.
Star swimmer Rikako Ikee has leukemia, Tokyo Olympic chance gets iffy
All — Kyodo News+