By Sarah Francis
An eight-year-old girl with a prosthetic leg has defied the odds by excelling at gymnastics.
Delaney Dunlap from Loveland, Ohio, USA, had her left leg amputated after being born with Fibular hemiphilia – a missing fibular.
Her devastated parents had to make the ‘toughest decision of their lives’ when she was just 18-months-old.
But after receiving a prosthetic leg six months later, aged two, the tiny tumbler has defied expectations ever since.
Mum Gina, 46, and dad Mike, 47, signed up their active daughter for gymnast class and she is proving no hurdle is too high.
The pint sized performer has shown off her skills at the university games, half-time shows and schools in the area, as well as festivals.
Impressive footage of the budding sports stars shows her doing flips and handstands like a pro.
Mike, a science teacher, said: “She constantly practices what she enjoys. No matter where we go or what we are doing she is doing gymnastics.
“She may have to do it differently, but she still finds a way. We are extremely proud of her and how she has adapted.
“However, depending on the situation her prosthetic leg has been a source of humour as well.
“Besides inadvertently falling off during soccer games, or flying off during a cartwheel it works pretty well.
“For us those instances are no big deal but to everyone else it’s a bit of a surprise.
“It takes a minute for everyone to realise what has happened.
“Delaney also likes to use her leg as an ice breaker when someone inquiries about her leg she will just take it off and let them have a look.”
Gina, a bank manager, added: “I still get choked up and overwhelmed at times because I am so proud of her.
“When I hear crowds at a half-time game erupt in applause for her it takes everything in me to hold back tears.
“Delaney’s favourite tricks are aerials, backhands springs, round off tucks, back walkovers and front walkers.”
Delaney said: “When people ask me about my leg, I say I was born without a bone and explain the whole process.
“I want to become a professional soccer or gymnast as I like learning new tricks.
“At gymnasts practice, I feel happy because I might become a really good gymnast.”
The family discovered there was an issue during a sonogram when Gina was five months pregnant.
But it wasn’t until Delaney was born in December 2008 that they were giving the official diagnosis.
Three days later, at the children’s hospital in Ohio, doctors advised amputation.
Gina said: “This was devastating to hear because we thought for sure there would be another way.
“The only other option was leg lengthening and this would have been several, painful surgeries and she would be unable to participate in sports and be as active as she is because each surgery limits her for several months at a time.
“We had to make the toughest decision of our lives.
“I pictured her life to be limited activity, constant stares and comments from people, feelings of animosity and feeling sorry for her. I couldn’t have been more wrong.”
Mike added: “I would imagine any parent would feel frightened knowing their child was going to go through major surgery, let alone the removal of her foot and part of her leg.”
“Since we knew ahead of time of her condition it gave us time to prepare and research the condition and the possibilities.
“We learned early on that Delaney was determined to do what she wanted.
“Delaney was extremely active so it made our decision to amputate that much easier.”
After Delaney had her left leg amputated below the knee, Gina signed up her daughter for classes with her old gymnast teacher.
Gina said: “I realised the same teacher who taught me more than 30 years ago was still teaching in the area.
“I knew the teacher wouldn’t go easy on Delaney because of her leg – she treats her just like all of the other kids.
“Also, we could tell from an early age that Delaney was athletic and determined.”
Now Delaney practices three times a week with the team, Karol Warden’s gymnastics club.
Mike added: “Not only has she proven that nothing will hold her back, she will tell you that nothing is going to hold her back.
“Others claim she is an inspiration, but at this point I am not too surprised at what she is able to accomplish.
“Her attitude is what has proved nothing is going to hold her back.”