Women to Watch in London 2012: Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi

Your feminist-friendly guide to the women of the London 2012 Olympics. This week, meet Malaysian markswoman Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi…

Country: Malaysia. She’s from Perak and lives and trains in Kuala Lumpur.

Sport: 10m air rifle.

Likely to win: She won gold in the Southeast Asian Games in November 2011, and bronze in the Asian Games in 2010. She qualified for the Olympics at the Asian Games in January in two disciplines: 10m air rifle and 50m rifle three. However, she won’t be competing in the latter in London, and will be competing against a worldwide field in London, including 2008 winner Katerina Emmons. If she were to win Olympic gold, it would be Malaysia’s first in any sport (they have two silvers and two bronzes, all in badminton).

Close-up of Nur with rifle, in shooting gear with cap and scarf
Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi in competitive gear, photo from

Other reasons she’s interesting:

She’s been a competitive shooter for thirteen years and was first taken to the shooting range by her father.

I said, ‘whoa! it’s like a man’s job’… But I like a rough job like that, not something girlie or feminine, I don’t like those types of sports so I tried and it’s been ok.

She’s been in the English-language media recently, not because of her sporting skills, but because of her uterus: by the time she competes at the end of July, she’ll be 33 weeks pregnant.

I will talk to the baby before I compete… ‘no kicking, stay calm for one hour and 15 minutes only please.’

News of her pregnancy led one journalist to ask what International Paralympics Committee member Craig Spence called “the most idiotic question I have ever received from a journalist”:

Tweet by Craig Spence, quoting a journalist: "There is a shooter from Malaysia who's qualified for the Olympics and is now pregnant. Does she now have to compete in the Paralympics?"
Original tweet:

However, she has the support of her husband

I feel I am strong and my husband says ‘as long as you feel like that, energized to do that, it seems like that is your baby talking to you so you go.’

and also the Malaysian Olympic Committee, who have lined up maternity hospitals close to the shooting venue, the Royal Artillery Barracks, on the off chance she needs them. So, I for one am eager to see a pregnant woman ignoring the ‘somebody think of the children!’ hand-wringing, and kicking ass in the Olympics, whether she gets a medal or not.

See her: Saturday July 28th at 8:15am.


We want to feature a range of countries and sports in this series, so if there’s a woman you’re particularly looking forward to seeing in the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, let me know who she is and why she’s interesting.

6 replies on “Women to Watch in London 2012: Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi”

I know! And yet, when she was discussed on a US women’s-interest/feminist-y site, loads  of commenters felt the need to say that it was clearly a disability, because (a) some women have terrible pregnancies and (b) women in the US take “disability leave” as time off… but that’s just because there’s no statutory maternity leave there.

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