Aaliyah aiming to reach tricks final and set personal best

PUTRAJAYA: Teenage water skier Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah has set a couple of personal goals for the new season.

For a start, the 13-year-old hopes to reach the tricks final at the World Junior Waterski Championships in Santiago, Chile, from Jan 4-8.

“My target is to get into the final with a new personal best. I’m hoping to crack the 8,000 mark,” said Aaliyah, whose personal best of 7,110 points is an Asian record.

“I’ve scored about 7,300 in training so I think I can do it. It’s still going to be tough as there’s a strong field. American Anna Gay and Neilly Ross of Canada are also taking part,” added Aliyah, a winner of five golds at the Asian Waterski and Wakeboard Championships in South Korea in August.

The 17-year-old Gay is the reigning world champion and holds the world record of 10,010 points.

Ross, 15, finished second at this year’s World Championships. She was also the winner of the Junior Moomba (Under-17) tricks title in Australia in March with a meet record of 9,920 points.

“Both Anna and Neilly are way above me right now. But I’m not too worried as I’m on the right track.

“There’s still work to be done for me to be a better skier. I’m still adapting to the changes in my body. And I’ve been training with a faster boat speed too,” said Aaliyah, who won two golds at the 2015 Singapore SEA Games.

“But I’ve progressed a lot since I first started skiing at five. I feel mentally and physically prepared for the World Juniors.”

Besides the tricks, Aaliyah will also compete in the slalom and jumps for the first time.

Aaliyah’s two younger brothers – 11-year-old Aiden and nine-year-old Adam – will also take part in Santiago.

The siblings and their father Hanifah, who is also the team manager, will leave for Santiago tomorrow.

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