TRUE GRIT: Pregnant Suryani refuses to give up her dream
Nur Suryani believes her marksmanship has improved because of her pregnancy.
FOR Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi, the prospect of competing on the world stage isn’t what’s most difficult about the Olympics.
At eight months pregnant, Nur Suryani will step up to her rifle, hoping her baby girl will not get uneasy just as she squeezes the trigger.
“I will talk to the baby before I compete.
No kicking, stay calm for one hour and 15 minutes only, please,” said Nur Suryani. The 30-year-old, ranked world 47th in the women’s 10m air rifle. will join an exclusive club of pregnant Olympians.
TheInternationalOlympicCommittee does not keep a record of the number of pregnant athletes, but unofficial data states he will be the first one in the Summer Games.
Nur Suryani, who is due to have her first baby on Sept 2, will leave for London with husband Marhazli Mhotar on Monday and return three days after her event on July 28. “The Olympics is important to me ...every athlete dreams of competing at the Olympics. When I go to London, it will be 33 weeks. When I come back, it will be 34 weeks.
“It has been stressful as some were nottookeentosendmetoLondondue to my condition. “I, however, was determined to make my first Olympic appearance and finally they gave me the needed support.
“If I had abandoned it, maybe who knows? Another four years to wait, maybe I don’t have the opportunity,” she said.
The Perak-born Nur Suryani made history by being the first Malaysian woman shooter to qualify for the Olympics on merit.
She achieved it at the Asian Championships in Doha, in January by finishing fifth in the air rifle. Nur Suryani attributed her success in Doha to her unborn child, as she only found out about her pregnancy two days before competition.
“It was the happiest day of my life when I learned that I was pregnant just two days before my event in Doha, which in turn motivated me to perform to the best of my ability.
“I wouldn’t have qualified if not for the good news. I believe that my baby gave me the strength and courage to do battle then.
“It must have been something as I received two good things in Doha. I told myself then that I needed to compete at the Olympics,” said Nur Suryani.
Shooting is less stressful on a body than many other sports, but requires absolute precision and concentration, and Nur Suryani believes her marksmanship has improved because of her pregnancy. “One thing I’ve noticed is that my stability has increased ... maybe because of my weight increase,” she said.
NurSuryanihasbeenaccommodating with the local and international media but she admits the attention has been affecting her training.
“I will not be doing interviews until I arrive in London. Everyone wants to interview a pregnant shooter but I need my ‘own’ time now,” said the Navy officer.
Despite the hype, Nur Suryani is not a medal contender in London as one needs to score at least 398 out of the 400-point perfect score, which she has done only once in her career, to make the topeight bracket for the final.
“My aim is to do everything perfectlyandthentheresultswillcome. Ifyou aim for a gold medal, you are putting yourself under pressure,” “I am physically and mentally prepared for the challenge. There are a lot of external factors that can disrupt a shooter’s concentration, such as the press there or even adapting to the Games village. I do not want to be caught off-guard,” she said.
Nur Suryani, who took up shooting at 14, is the most successful local shooter for her breakthrough performances of late.
In 2010, she made history by winning Malaysia’s first ISSF medal, a silver, in the London leg before becomingthenation’sfirstwomanshooterto earn a bronze at the Guangzhou Asian Games, both in the air rifle.
She also ended Malaysia’s Sea Games gold medal drought at last year’s Indonesia Sea Games by clinchingtheairrifleand50mthree- position events.
• Name: Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi • Date of birth: Sept 24, 1982 • Place of birth: Ipoh • Career achievements: World Cup — 2010 Sydney: one silver (10m air rifle); Asian Games — 2010 Guangzhou: one bronze (10m air rifle); Commonwealth Games — 2010 New Delhi: one gold (10m air rifle pairs with Nur Ayuni Farhana) and one bronze (10m air rifle); 2006 Melbourne — one bronze (50m three-position); Sea Games — 2001 Kuala Lumpur: one gold (50m threeposition team); 2003 Hanoi: one gold (50m three-position team); 2005 Manila: one gold (50m prone); 2007 Korat: one gold (50m rifle prone team), two silver (50m rifle prone and 10m air rifle team), two bronze (50m three-position individual and team); 2009 Laos: two silver (50m threeposition team; 10m air rifle team); 2011 Palembang: two gold (10m air rifle and 50m three-position) • London expectations: Hopes to break the national record of 399 points. • Competition dates: July 28