Taku Takeuchi, who won a bronze medal in the team ski jumping competition Monday at the Sochi Winter Olympics, has been competing while struggling with a rare disease.

The 26-year-old Takeuchi was hospitalized in January after being told there was a high probability he was suffering from Churg-Strauss syndrome, an incurable autoimmune disorder that causes severe coughing and numbness in the arms and legs.

"I jumped with a desire to inspire those people suffering from the same disease. If you pray, things can come true," said Takeuchi, whose jumps of 127 and 130 meters contributed to Japan reaching the podium for the first time since its victory in the event at the 1998 Nagano Games.