Waterskier Aaliyah ends Asian championships with 5 golds


Slalom winner Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah is flanked by second-placed fellow Malaysian Arianna Chow (left) and third-placed Soraya Saghbini of Lebanon at the Asian Waterski and Wakeboard Championships in Yeonggwang, South Korea.

PETALING JAYA: Teenager Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah has bagged five gold medals to cap a successful week at the Asian Waterski and Wakeboard Championships in Yeonggwang, South Korea.

The 13-year-old, who holds the Asian record of 7,110 points for tricks, was never a doubt for the gold medal in her pet event despite competing in the Under-17 category.

She first set a meet record of 6,660 points in the preliminary round before going on to secure gold with 5,340 points on Thursday.

It was a 1-2 finish for Malaysia in the tricks event as 15-year-old Arianna Chow (3,910pts) took silver, ahead of South Korea’s Jung So-young (1,860pts).

Aaliyah grabbed her second gold on Thursday in the jump event, clearing 26.7m – also a new meet record – to finish ahead of So-young (12.8m).

Yesterday, the double gold medallist at the Singapore SEA Games last year continued to impress by grabbing the slalom gold.

Aaliyah was way ahead of the field as she managed 3.5 buoys on a 13m rope for the gold.

It was also a new national record, erasing the previous mark of 2 buoys on a 13m rope set by half-sister Philippa Yoong 12 years ago.

Arianna again settled for silver with 0.5 buoys on a 14.25m rope. Lebanon’s Soraya Saghbini was third after clearing five buoys on a 16m rope.

Aaliyah’s sweep of all three events was more than enough for her to win the overall category – for her fourth gold medal.

Aaliyah, her brothers – 10-year-old Aiden and eight-year-old Adam – and Arianna then took the team gold with a score of 4,168.99.

Aiden also had a superb outing, scoring 2,760 points in tricks to pip Japan’s Ryo Nagatomo to the silver by 10 points. Indonesia’s Suprihono Dimas Ridho (3,180pts) took gold.

South Korea finished with the silver in the team event after posting 4,075.76 while Japan (2,041.17) took bronze.

“It’s an incredible result and I can’t believe it ... .especially since waterski is a sport that relies a lot on mental strength,” said a delighted Aaliyah.

“Winning the three-event was my personal goal, but anything can happen ... a favourite can fall on the first trick or first slalom pass, so I’m very happy to have done it.

“I’m just a little disappointed I didn’t beat the Under-17 record for slalom (5 buoys 13m rope).”


   

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