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Young gymnast overcomes hurdle, faces next one

10:43 AM, Jun 7, 2013   |    comments
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  • Bailee Iorg takes off her prosthetic leg to show a backbend.
  • Coach Jennifer Lankford helps Bailee Iorg on the balance beam.
    

(WBIR-Knoxville) A Knoxville girl is changing the world of gymnastics.

Bailee Iorg is a power tumbler at Tataru's Gymnastics Tumbling and Cheerleading in West Knoxville.

The 8-year-old is missing half of her left leg and needs to use a prosthetic leg.

"The first moment she walked in, she was literally just bouncing from leg to leg just going everywhere. I was like, 'Alright, I hope I'm ready for this,'" said Mike Tataru, co-owner of Tataru's Gymnastics Tumbling and Cheerleading.

"It inspires me and it makes me feel good and it makes me feel like I can do anything," Bailee said.

But there once was a time when Bailee's parents, Rachel and Isaac Iorg, thought she would never be able to participate in a sport like gymnastics.

A birth defect left Bailee with her left foot bent backwards.

"At four months old they cut her foot off. The hardest experience of my life as a parent to this day," Rachel said.

Growing up, Rachel and Isaac made sure Bailee could take care of herself.

A year ago, at the age of seven, they agreed to let her try gymnastics.

"To watch her go in there like, 'There's nothing wrong with me,' it melts my heart. I'm so proud of her. She's amazing. I hope someday I can be as good as my daughter is at eight years old. I hope I can be as emotionally and physically strong as her because she is amazing," Rachel said.

Now, Bailee faces a new challenge.

After a year in gymnastics, she is almost ready to compete in USA Gymnastics but cannot.

"They [USA Gymnastics] said, 'Well actually we don't have any rules regarding that. Nobody's asked us that question before,'" Tataru said.

Board members for the USA Gymnastics Trampoline and Tumbling program asked Tataru and his staff to study the safety and performance of Bailee's prosthetic leg.

"I'm hoping I'll be able to compete because I'm the gateway for everyone else with a fake leg," Bailee said.

She went on to say, "Instead of being lazy and sitting on the couch like most people would do and tell their mom and dad, 'Well I can't do it because of my fake leg' and then their moms and dads go, 'Awww yeah, you can't do it.' Instead saying, 'Mom and dad, I want to do this, I want to do that.'"

Update

USA Gymanstics released a statement regarding Bailee Iorg after the original story aired:

"USA Gymnastics applauds Bailee Iorg for her determination, drive and 'can do' attitude, not only regarding gymnastics but also life in general. USA Gymnastics does not have a policy that precludes an athlete with a prosthetic device from competing; however we plan to monitor and address any areas of concern. We trust that Bailee and her coaches will monitor her skill level and capability to determine her competitive readiness and wish Bailee the best of luck as she pursues her athletic dreams."

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