Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee became on Sept. 2 the first female athlete to be named Most Valuable Player at an Asian Games after the teenager scooped an unprecedented six gold medals in the Jakarta pool.
Only North Korean shooter So Gil San, who won seven golds and a silver at New Delhi in 1982, has won more titles at one edition of the games, but the 18-year-old Ikee also picked up two relay silvers to match So’s record tallyof eight medals.
All six golds were achieved in Asian Games record times and her achievement was made all the more remarkable as she arrived in Jakarta immediately after the Pan Pacific championships, where she won a gold, two silvers and a bronze.
Ikee, whose gold medal haul is the most for a female athlete at a single Asian Games, was the unanimous choice for the MVP award, the Olympic Council of Asia said on the final day of the multisport event.
“I had heard that for a while there was no MVP award and I felt very sad about that, but there was a reevaluation and I am very honored to be able to receive such a wonderful award,” Ikee said after picking up her trophy and a check for $50,000 (¥5.5 million).
Ikee is the fourth Japanese athlete to win the award since its inception at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok. (Reuters)