Pregnancy no obstacle for Malaysian athlete
Pregnant women achieving incredible athletic feats never fail to make the news, and seem to inspire awe and criticism in equal amounts.
When Paula Radcliffe won the 2007 New York marathon just ten months after giving birth to her first child, fans praised her for her dedication and in awe at the idea of training throughout her pregnancy.
However, even established athletes like Radcliffe faced judgement for her decision to keep running.
In an interview with Runner’s World magazine, she spoke of the reactions she faced, saying: “You feel like saying, I’m not sick. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just pregnant.”
True to form, a heavily pregnant woman competing in the Olympic Games this week has faced mixed reactions from the press and the public.
Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi, who came 34th in the ten metre air rifle shooting shooting event on Saturday, attracted a huge amount of attention in the run up to the Games for her decision to compete while eight months pregnant.
Taibi has faced opposition in her home country ever since she qualified for the Olympics in January, just two days after finding out she was pregnant. She told the BBC, “some people say I’m crazy. Some people say I’m too selfish”.
Although doctors allowed her to train “until eight months or nine months”, she had to wear a special suit and belt for support. She also had to withdraw from the 50 metre event, as her bump prevented her from lying down in the required prone position.
Then there’s the risk of the baby kicking at a key moment, which Taibi says she averted by telling her baby to “behave… and let mummy shoot”.
Despite the challenges, Taibi enjoyed the full support of her family. Her husband encouraged her to take part and her father, who watched her compete on TV at home in Malaysia, told AP:
“I’m proud of her. I’ve told her: if you can compete in the Olympics, that’s such an achievement already – all the more when you’re pregnant”.
Despite not making the final in her event, Taibi has proved her naysayers wrong, and has shown that when that support is available, pregnancy is no obstacle to athletic achievement.
In her own words: ”A pregnant woman can do whatever they think they can do… The most important thing is how they think.”