Kaleo Kanahele has struggled all her life to play volleyball because of her club foot. Still, she worried that she wasn't disabled enough to participate in a paralympic volleyball event. But Kanahele's fears were soothed Friday when the sport's governing body cleared her to participate in the Sitting Volleyball World Championships that start Sunday at the University of Central Oklahoma and run through July 18. Kanahele, from Edmond, was awaiting word from the sport's governing body about whether her disability, which left her with almost no muscle on her left calf and prevents her from pushing off that leg, was considered severe enough to allow her to compete. "I would be extremely disappointed if I wasn't able to play,” said Kanahele, who at 14 is the youngest player on the U.S. squad, before learning of the decision. Kanahele was classified as a permanent minimally-disabled player, making her the only such player on the U.S. team. Each team is allowed to have two minimally-disabled players on the roster and only one on the court at a time. The day after Kanahele was born, doctors placed a cast over her left foot that had to be changed every two weeks. That lasted until she was 9 months old when doctors operated on her ankle to insert pins to hold the heel bone in place. The treatment improved Kanahele's mobility, but her left foot will always be wider and shorter than her right. Kanahele was 8 years old when she began to notice that she was different from her classmates. When her friends learned to skip, she tried to do the same but couldn't force her left leg to cooperate, a problem that weeks of practice didn't alleviate. Frustrated, Kanahele asked her mother why her body wouldn't work. "When my mom told me it was because I was born with a club foot, I was shocked,” said Kanahele, who in August will be a freshman at Edmond Santa Fe. "After I found out, I kept on going like nothing was wrong, but it makes everything in sports harder.” Because of the condition, Kanahele isn't able to play the same way as her teammates on her club team, Oklahoma Peak Performance. She said she was thrilled when U.S. women's sitting volleyball coach Bill Hamiter asked her to work out with the team. "On my club team, I can only use one leg to jump so I can't block as well as other girls and I can't use a jump-serve either,” said Kanahele, who started playing volleyball when she was 10. "When I started with the sitting team, I was so excited, because it's been a dream of mine to play in the Olympics.” The top three teams at the event automatically qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Coaching Kanahele is different from coaching the older women, Hamiter said. "Because of her age, I have to be really careful to not push her more than I think she can handle,” he said. Kanahele's classification uncertainty left her in a unique position — unable to fully compete with her standing team, and possibly unable to play with her sitting team. "I've been working all my life to be like everyone else, but now it's not like that,” she said. "I'm in the middle because I'm not as able as the girls on my standing team, but I'm not as disabled as the girls on my sitting team.” After a life of overcoming her disability, Kanahele now has overcome the last hurdle that might have prevented her from chasing her Olympic dream.