PUTRAJAYA: Water-skiier Aaliyah Yoong is definitely not your ordinary eight-year-old.
She’s the one who stole the nation’s hearts when she became the youngest SEA Games medallist by winning the gold in the women’s tricks event at the recent Indonesia Games.
And the SK Bandar Seri Putra Year Two student, who took up skiing at the age of five at the waterski centre in Precint 6, Putrajaya, attributes her success “to a lot of sacrifices”.
“I had to skip school sometimes to put in extra hours on my training and for tournaments ... but I’m very happy that I won,” she said.
Yesterday, the Putrajaya Corporation (PPj) paid tribute to the achievements of Aaliyah and the rest of the Malaysian Water Ski Team by feting them to a luncheon.
The team, led by Phillipa Yoong, returned from the SEA Games in Palembang with four golds, three silvers and one bronze.
PPj president Tan Sri Samsudin Osman was full of praise for the team.
“We are extremely happy that the Malaysian Water Ski & Wakeboard Federation (MWWF) chose Putrajaya Lake as their venue for training. We have also invested in the development of the sport in Putrajaya since 2008,” said Samsudin.
Phillipa said it was sheer will power which helped her win the two gold medals in the women’s slalom and women’s overall events.
It was a tremendous achievement too, judging by the fact that she last competed in the Games in 1997.
“It was really hard to come back to a sport after 10 years ... everything seems to be harder and the risk of getting injured is also higher,” said Phillipa.
Phillipa believes that her half-sister Aaliyah would soon be the torch-bearer for the team.
“Aaliyah has the potential to go far based on her performances at the Asian Championships and the SEA Games,” said Phillipa.
Meanwhile, up next for the team is the Asian Beach Games in China in June.
But Aaliyah has another appointment earlier as she will compete in the Under-17 Moomba Masters in Australia in March.