The name Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi may not be familiar to you, but she made history at the London games. She’s an Olympic shooter from Malaysia who competed in the 10-meter air rifle event last week. At 8 months pregnant, she’s also the most pregnant Olympian to ever compete.
Taibi qualified for the Malaysian Olympic shooting team just two days after finding out that she was pregnant with her first child. The 29 year-old mother-to-be faced doubts from the Olympic Committee about whether she should participate in the games or relinquish her spot on the team. But Taibi stuck to her guns (literally) and refused to back down.
“I said, ‘I got the qualification, so it’s mine”, Taibi recalled before the event. Her husband told her that the opportunity to compete was “a rare chance that may not come again”, and her parents echoed the sentiment. But that didn’t stop the criticisms. Taibi said, “Most people said I was crazy and selfish because they think I am jeopardizing my baby’s health. [But] I am the mother. I know what I can do.” She also said that she felt the pregnancy actually improved her performance, giving her more weight and stability for shooting.
Taibi’s stand didn’t just earn her a spot in the Olympics – it also dealt a blow to the idea that pregnant women are fragile flowers who mustn’t engage in any vigorous physical activity. This is an idea that persists despite increasing evidence that pregnant women can do anything from vigorous exercise to drinking alcohol in larger amounts than previously thought without jeopardizing their pregnancy.
Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi has already returned home – her doctors wanted her to fly back home before hitting the 35-week mark of her pregnancy. She says that even though she didn’t medal, the experience was a dream come true. And she can’t wait to tell her daughter, “You are very lucky, [you were] not born yet and you already went to the Olympics”.