PETALING JAYA: When you are training hard and seeking glory in sports, motherhood seems like a heavy burden. But being a mother can be glorious, too, as many female athletes have proven.

Juggling between sports and motherhood is never easy, but national athletes like bowler Shalin Zulkifli, shooter Nur Suryani Taibi and former international swimmer Cindy Tan, just to mention a few, have stood tall against challenges and adversities.

The 42-year-old Shalin won numerous world titles and is showing no signs of slowing down despite being a mother while Suryani was eight months pregnant when she took part in the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Former national butterfly swimmer Cindy, now 36, bagged five golds and two silvers in the 35-39 age category at the FINA World Masters Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, in August – after having three children.

Wushu exponent Ng Shin Yii won medals in world championships but quit the sport to start a family and is supportive of her husband Adrian Ang’s career in bowling.

Then, there were those from the past like sprinter G. Shanti and long-distance walker Yuan Yufang, who became better after giving birth and went on to win gold medals in the SEA Games.

Shalin said there were different challenges for mothers who choose to pursue their careers.

“All good mothers will sacrifice everything for their families. Many women athletes, once they become pregnant, are unfortunately dropped from the teams. They have to fight back and prove themselves again to win a place in the national team, ” said Shalin.

“There is a stigma that comes with athletes being mothers. People think they can’t be as good or as committed. Life as an athlete for women does not end when they become mothers. It’s the start of something new.

“You have a chance to be a better person as an example for your kids, ” added Shalin.

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