The mother of all shootouts in Woolwich

Malaysian competes a month before due date

It was the morning after the marathon extravaganza of the opening ceremony that stretched beyond the night before. At 8.15am yesterday, 56 women took aim at the targets positioned in the indoor shooting hall at the Woolwich Artillery Barracks, opening fire with the first competitive shots on day one of competition at the XXX Olympic Games.

Standing near the end of the line was a 2012 OIympian with a Millennium Dome of a stomach. "Some people have said to me, 'Are you pregnant or are you just really fat?' " Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi recalled later, chuckling.

The cheery Malaysian is indeed with child. She is eight months' pregnant. Her baby is due on 6 September. "My husband and I already have a name for her," Mohd Taibi said. "She's Dayana Widyan.

"I talked to her before the competition. I said, 'Behave yourself. Be calm. Don't move so much.'

"She's a good girl. She listens to me. She kicked only three or four times. I'm lucky.

"When she grows up I will tell her she is very lucky too. She hasn't been born and she's already competed in the Olympics.

"I am doing so for the first time and I am 29."

Mother and child-to-be acquitted themselves very well in the qualifying competition for the women's 10m air rifle. They finished 34th of the 56 shooters, scoring 392 points out of a possible 400.

"I found out I was pregnant a month after qualifying for the team," Mohd Taibi reflected. "I never thought of staying at home. My husband told me, 'It is your dream to take part in the Olympic Games. Go and make your dream come true'."

There was some neat historical symmetry in her doing just that in that in event one on day one of the 2012 Olympics. After all, the star of the last London Olympics was a woman who broke down the barriers of convention.

The world frowned when Fanny Blankers-Koen left her two children at home in Amsterdam to compete in the 1948 Games. At the time no one imagined that a 30-year-old mother of two could possibly be a world-beating athlete.

Blankers-Koen became a world- beater four times over at those London Olympics, winning gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m relay. Her quadruple success remains a feat unmatched by any other female in Olympic track-and-field history. Marion Jones won just the three gold medals in Sydney in 2000 – and she, as the world now knows, was powered by something more than natural talent.

Unknown to herself and the world at the 1948 Games, Blankers-Koen was actually three months' pregnant at the time. It was she who conceived the concept of the successful sporting mother that has become so commonplace.

It is not even unusual for women athletes to compete in the Olympic arena while with child. The German archer Connie Pfohl was six months' pregnant when she took part in the Athens Games in 2004.

The Czech shooter Katerina Emmons was four months' pregnant when she competed in Beijing four years ago. She won a gold there. She also happened to be in action yesterday, finishing fourth in the final.

For the record, the first gold of the Games was won by China's Siling Yi, with Sylwia Bogacha of Poland taking silver and Dan Yu of China bronze, while Jen McIntosh, the lone Briton, finished 36th. Not that Yi was the only winner.

Standing up the other end of the line from Mohd Taibi in qualifying was a woman wearing a headscarf. If Bahya Mansour Al Hamad was feeling a little bleary-eyed, she had every reason to be. She had carried her country's flag in the opening ceremony.

A standard-bearer in every respect, her very presence at London 2012 had been touched upon by Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, in his opening address. "For the first time in Olympic history all the participating teams will have female athletes," he said. "This is a major boost for gender equality."

When Al Hamad fired the first of her 40 shots at the target she broke new ground as the first female Qatari athlete to compete at an Olympic Games. Brunei and Saudi Arabia will also have women in their teams for the first time during the course of London 2012.

Al Hamad was only two points off making the eight-woman final, finishing 17th with a score of 395. "I'm so proud to be here," she said, tears welling up in her eyes. "It's a dream come true. I'm so happy."

Mohd Taibi was happy for her too. "Women can do whatever men can. It's not like only men can do a challenging job," she said. "Maybe people from all countries have started to open their minds."

Recipe for Olympic success

The target

On form, one silver, and maybe a bronze, as world No2 Peter Wilson should end Britain's 12-year wait for a shooting medal.

The week

After China's Yi Siling shot her way into the record books by winning the first gold medal at the Games, 10 other shooting golds can be won this week. Wilson is expected to compete in the men's double trap final on Thursday.

The wow factor

Richard Faulds, who won gold in 2000 and last Briton to bring home a shooting medal, is in his fifth Games.

Fancy that

Wilson has been coached for the Games by Sheikh Ahmad Al Maktoum, the 2004 Olympic gold medallist in men's double trap and a member of the ruling family of Dubai.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Morgana Robinson
arts + entsIt is not easy interviewing Morgana Robinson. Here's why...
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin