Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi has a unique task ahead of competing in the London Olympics this Saturday: convincing her unborn daughter not to squirm as she fires off her air rifle in the 10-metre competition.
Ms. Taibi is eight months pregnant, due to give birth to her first child on Sept. 2. Although the 30-year-old Malaysian is not the first Olympian to compete while pregnant, she is closer to her due date than any competitor ever before.
Speaking with Reuters in April, Ms. Taibi said she’d talk to her baby before the shoot off, instructing: “No kicking. Stay calm for one hour and 15 minutes only, please.”
She isn’t the first athlete to compete in the final leg of pregnancy. Last October, 27-year-old Amber Miller ran the 42-kilometre Chicago Marathon while nine months pregnant: Contractions started during the race and Ms. Miller delivered the baby hours after finishing her run.
How will Ms. Taibi’s bulging belly affect her performance? The former Commonwealth Games gold medallist will only be able to compete in the 10-metre rifle, done standing up. Ms. Taibi’s specialty, the 50-metre rifle three positions, requires competitors to occasionally lie down flat on their stomachs – not an option in this case.
Still, she insists the extra weight of her pregnancy will help keep her more grounded on Saturday: “Now I have balance at the front and the back,” she told BBC News. “So the stability is there.”
Ms. Taibi, whose father took her to the shooting range when she was 15, argued that being with child has also helped her mental state along the road to London.
“They are thinking, ‘Can you do that, can you do that’? I say, ‘No problem,’ because when you have some living things inside your stomach everywhere you go, you have company. You don’t feel lonely.”
Ranking 47th in the world, Ms. Taibi doesn’t anticipate a medal, adding, “Anyhow, maybe they will say this is unfair because two persons shoot for one gold.” Still, she’s an impressive sight on the gun range.