Pietermaritzburg - A Newholme Primary School pupil, who was diagnosed with the rare Kawasaki disease at the age of one in 2006, has gone on to defy the odds and excel at sports.Angelique Christie Reddy (12) has achieved numerous medals in athletics representing her school in the 100 and 150 metre sprints and in relay races. This is despite her ongoing heart problems resulting from Kawasaki disease, which she contracted when she was a toddler.- Health24: Kawasaki diseaseRizae Peter Pillay, a teacher and coach at the school, said despite her condition Angelique is a strong and confident athlete and there are high hopes for her future. “She has a good heart and has a strong spirit ... despite her heart condition. She has come a long way with her running. I hope sport will continue to play an integral part in her life even after she leaves our school next year,” said Pillay.“She won a bronze medal in the 150 metre race on Thursday at our inter-schools sports event at the Northdale Stadium and I hope to send her for the SuperSport’s Multichoice player star of the month for August,” said Pillay.Angelique said her talent was spotted by her teachers when she was in grade two.“I would always take the first position in the races I took part in from grade two, which is when my talent was discovered by my teachers. What inspired me to continue running was my love of running. It’s a hobby for me and I am inspired by the sport,” said Angelique.Candice Ajodhi, Angelique’s mother, said she was very proud, especially because of what they had gone through in the past 12 years.“I am very proud of her achievements despite our challenges over her health issues and her going in and out of hospital throughout the years, But she has remained determined, positive and enthusiastic and highly spirited throughout.“Although I tried to talk her out of it because of her heart condition, she still insisted on participating. “She wanted to do it for herself and to show other children that you can overcome what you are going through. She is vindicated and we feel validated by this,” she said.WHAT IS KAWASAKI DISEASE? The rare Kawasaki disease usually affects infants and young children under the age of five years old. It affects the skin, mouth, and lymph nodes. It includes symptoms such as a high fever and peeling skin in its early stages. In the later stages, there may be inflammation of medium-sized blood vessels. The cause of the disease is still unknown but it is treatable. However, it can lead to lasting heart damage in rare cases.