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In defeat, encomiums for pregnant Olympian

pregnant Malaysian Nur Taibi
Although she has been eliminated from the air rifle event in the London Olymic Games, pregnant Malaysian Nur Taibi has earned widespread commendations. But some people are nervous that her husband has yet to say anything on her adventure.

As eight-month-old pregnant Malysian athlete, Nur Suryani Mohammed Taibi, heads back home, her spirit of adventure has been generating diverse reactions. As if to prove that what a man can do, even a pregnant woman can do better, Taibi competed in the 10-metre air rifle event, hoping to capture gold, which would obviously have been like a child before her biological child due to be born in the next few weeks.

She had declared before the games started, “A pregnant woman can do whatever they think they can do. The most important thing is how they think. I don’t feel like there’s a challenge during pregnancy. I just feel like ordinary, normal people, as if I am not pregnant. I still can do whatever a normal person can do.”
To many mature Nigerians, Malaysia often rings a bell, being a country that used to be at the same socio-economic level with Nigeria about four decades ago, before it cruised into development, while Nigeria indulged in an orgy of motion without movement.

It is usually said the palm kernel, on which Malaysia built its agricultural breakthrough, is taken from the ‘Giant of Africa’ whose agricultural profile has disappeared into near oblivion.

A Kent-based Nigerian businesswoman, Felicia Udom, notes this in her reaction to Taibi’s participation at the Olympics. She adds that since the athlete did not participate in a sport as demanding as sprinting, the risk she took was a safe one.

She says, “I think the lesson is also that women should also be psychologically prepared for challenges whenever they are pregnant. I will advise Taibi’s doctors to consider the impact of the excitement she has had in the past days on the health of the unborn baby, but she is definitely one of the heroes of the London Olympics.”

In interviews with our correspondent, Emmy Gerrard – a young British lawyer – and Ibrahim Bra – a Tunisian tourist – also salute Taibi’s courage. While Gerrard, however, doubts if she is adventurous enough to step into the shooting ring if she found herself in the athlete’s position, Bra notes that personally, he would not discourage Taibi if he were her husband or brother.

“If the doctor advised that there was no problem and she felt she was fit enough, I would support her.” he adds.

Taibi has been edged out of the competition but her spirit is far from being broken. She is already looking beyond the pregnancy season, saying, “I will still carry on because this is already my life. What I’ve heard is that a mother after delivery has fresh blood so they can perform better. That’s the luck of being a woman.”
However, Bra’s stance is germane to a fear that has greeted the woman’s outing – the fact that her husband’s voice has not been heard. Her parents have expressed support for her and commended her for making them and the unborn proud. What some online comments suggest in this regard is that the hubby might not be comfortable with the wife’s decision. Our correspondent’s attempt to confirm this from Taibi, or reach her husband through her, has not yielded fruits as a message sent to her has not been replied.

“Whatever happens, I’m satisfied already. I’m proud of her. I’ve told her: ‘If you can compete in the Olympics, that’s an achievement already – all the more when you’re pregnant.’ We are her family, so we support her. We’ll be praying for her,” her father, Mohammed Taibi, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

While gossips may still be waiting for him to speak out, a comment earlier credited to the athlete, saying the hubby helped her to keep calm and focused, suggests that he had continued to ‘shoot’ along with her in spirit.

Another issue Taibi’s participation has raised borders on the inclusion of shooting in a game like the Olympics. To some people, any event that seems to promote violence ought to be discouraged. For such people who would like to indict America for entrenching such in online comments, however, a commentator on Taibi’s participation, who simply identifies him/herself as Dr. Putor, has some words, “It is nice to see coverage of shooting sports. Most Americans don’t realise that there have been quite a few medals contributed to the total medal count by our shooting teams. As for shooting not being a ‘true sport’ then you must consider most of your track and field events as non-sports also, as they came about from the mastery of weapons on the battlefield. Take a look at the ancient games of Greece, Javelin, Hammer, Shot-put, Fencing and Archery just to name a few.”

Taibi missed the cut-off by five points to finish in 34th place. She is not the first pregnant woman to compete at the Olympic Games, though. While a pregnant skeleton racer competed in the 2006 Winter Games; and another pregnant curler was in action in 2010, a pregnant figure skater is said to have won a gold medal in Sweden in 1920.

Taibi is ranked 47th in the world and has won two gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games in 10-meter air rifle and 50-meter rifle. She finished fifth in 10-meter rifle at the Asian Championships in January.

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