EAST Asian countries Japan and South Korea emerged tops in the Asian Waterski and Wakeboard Championship at the Putrajaya Lake Club. But it was local ace Philippa Yoong who stole the limelight on the final day of the five-day event, a proud moment for a South-East Asian country.
Philippa, 33, struck gold in the slalom event with a perfect score of 1,000, relegating last year’s silver medallist Saaya Hirosawa of Japan to second place again on 846.15 points.
The win was the first ever for a Malaysian in an Asian championship for waterski.
Meanwhile, her younger and half-sister Aaliyah Yoong, eight, also made the country proud by taking the silver in the Open Women’s Tricks event with a total score of 3,150 points.
Aaliyah thus became the youngest skier to win a medal in the Asian open category for any event, losing only to defending champion Song Yu Fei of China who accumulated 4,040 points.
Aaliyah could also be in line for a shot at a SEA Games medal.
Elder brother Alex Yoong, 35, could have made it a family affair if he had made good in the championship but the 1997 SEA Games medallist, taking part in his first full international event in 14 years, fell by the wayside.
Their respective wins would mean Malaysia can head for the SEA Games in Indonesia with confidence and a sure bet for gold in the same event from Philippa.
In the Open Ladies Jump, Hirosawa kept to her billing by taking the gold with a leap of 42.0m with Indonesian Giritiya Endhar Pupul coming in a distant second at 34.2m and Kamiya Harue of Japan in third position with a leap of 34.1m.
However, Hirosawa’s jump was a far cry from the all-time Asian Women Jump record of 49.6m she set at Florida’s Sunset Lake in the Lelani tournament on June 29 this year.
In the men’s open slalom, South Korea’s Kim See-hyung upset defending champion Chiha Salavador of Lebanon to win the gold medal with the bronze going to another South Korean, Kim Dong-neon.
At the end of the five-day event, Malaysia’s total medals haul is two gold, one silver and three bronze, taking the teams’ overall position to fourth, up two places from last year’s Asian Championships held in Jakarta.
Japan topped the list with South Korea in second place and Indonesia in third. China meanwhile, dropped from third last year to sixth position this year.