Japanese swimming star Rikako Ikee launched on Wednesday a website, which includes a letter of appreciation to fans for their support during her ongoing battle with leukemia.

The 18-year-old was "very appreciative of all the encouraging messages and letters I have received" since stunning Japan and the international swimming community with the announcement of her diagnosis, in February.

[Screenshot of Rikako Ikee's website]

"Honestly speaking, I sometimes become discouraged. However, I feel a surge of gratitude as a result of all the encouraging words I have received, and I promise myself I will not be defeated and will endure until I am able to overcome my illness," Ikee wrote.

She revealed her "medical treatment is proceeding smoothly" and that, despite expecting a prolonged period of hospitalization, she has been able to "enjoy things that I was not able to do when I was swimming, such as enjoying coloring books and puzzles, and watching movies."

The website (https://www.rikako-ikee.jp) also features information and photos of Ikee, and includes a form which supporters can fill out with a message to the teenage swimmer. 

Prior to the website's launch, Ikee had been sharing information on her treatment mainly through Twitter. She wrote in March that battling the disease was "several thousand times harder than I thought," but later in the month vowed she "will not give up" on competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Words of encouragement and support have poured in for Ikee from across the world, including from fellow swimmers, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and actor Ken Watanabe, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 1989.

[Screenshot of Rikako Ikee's website]

"I would like to believe that I now understand, although maybe not fully, how athletes and those with the same illness or condition as myself feel," Ikee wrote. "I will always keep in mind that I am not alone, and I would like you to do the same. We will persevere together."

Ikee set a Japanese record in the women's 100-meter butterfly in her first Olympic final at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, placing sixth. She shot to fame at last summer's Asian Games in Jakarta, where she was named the first female MVP after becoming the first swimmer to win six gold medals, all in Games-record times.

She holds national records over 50, 100 and 200 meters in freestyle, as well as 50 and 100 in butterfly.

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