On paper, Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi is entirely average for athletes competing in the women’s 10-meter air rifle event at the 2012 London Olympics. There’s just one difference: when she steps up to the line to shoot, she will be eight months pregnant.
“When I found out that I was pregnant before competing in the Asian meet, I thought that that was the end of my Olympic dream as I will have to turn my attention to the baby,” she told Malaysian’s leading newspaper, The Star. “But when I eventually qualified for the 10-meter air rifle event on merit, it made me rethink that perhaps I am supposed to go all the way despite my pregnancy.”
Nur Suryani is not only the sole pregnant woman in this year’s games, she is also the first female Malaysian rifle shooter to compete in Olympic history, according to The Star.
While shooting requires less physical strain on the body than sprinting or some of the other summer sports, Nur Suryani said she has had to alter her stance and train at all times of day to predict how she would feel during competition.
“The Olympic Games are important to me … Every athlete dreams of competing at the Olympics,” she told the Star. “Yes, there will be pressure on me to perform, but I will just focus on my preparation and nothing else.”
But Nur Suryani is not alone in navigating the Olympics games while expecting.
The first pregnant athlete to compete was Magda Julin of Sweden, who was four months pregnant when she won the gold medal in figure skating during the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, according to her Sports-Reference biography. Figure skating did not become a winter event until 1924.
Diana Sartor of Germany took fourth in the skeleton race in the 2006 Winter Olympics while in her first trimester and most recently, Kristie Moore served as an alternate to the Canadian curling team in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Moore was called up during a match against Sweden, who took gold ahead of Canada’s silver.
Nur Suryani is ranked 47th in the world and took gold at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010 after placing third in the 2010 Asian Games held in Guangzhou, China.
The 10-meter air rifle event is set for July 28.