Malaysian Olympic shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi is sweeping up a list of firsts in this year’s Olympic games. She is the first woman to represent Malaysia in shooting and although she is not the first woman to compete while pregnant in any sport, she is the furthest along in her pregnancy of any previous competitor.
By the time she pulls the trigger in his first Olympic event, Nur Suryani, 29, will be eight months pregnant. To be able to compete, she had to convince the Malaysian government that she will be fit enough to travel the 7,000 miles to the United Kingdom and back.
Nur Suryani is only worried about the baby girl kicking inside of her just as she’s about to pull the trigger. Shooting sports hinge on fractions of millimeters, breathing, balance and extreme stillness. A subtle baby’s kick may be the difference between gold and going home empty handed.
Nur Suryani thinks her baby is already very lucky to be going to the Olympics before she is born, and Suryani hopes she’ll behave. Nur Suryani says, “I will talk to her, say, ‘Mum is going to shoot just for a while. Can you just be calm?”‘
While the baby has the potential of ruining the shot, Nur Suryani said thus far, it has had a positive effect on her shooting. “One advantage that I’ve seen is that my stability increased — maybe because my gravity increased, my weight increased,” Nur Suryani said to The New York Times.
Currently, Nur Suryani is ranked 47th in the world in the 10-meter air rifle event. She wears a pair of specially modified pants to her training session at an indoor shooting range at Kuala Lumpur’s national sport complex.
She discovered she was pregnant just two days before she qualified for the Olympics during competition in Doha, Qatar in January. Government officials suggested that another shooter take her place, but she was adamant that the qualification was hers to accept.
“For me nothing is impossible,” she said. “It’s one of the challenges. If I abandoned it, maybe who knows? Another four years to wait, maybe I don’t have the opportunity.”
Having finished 392 out of a possible 400 during a World Cup event in London in April, then 394 in Milan and 396 in Munich both a month later, she hopes to increase her outcome by another two points during the Olympics. For now, she laughs as she prepares for the oncoming media attention in London as she says, “my stomach is more popular than me.”