PETALING JAYA: If all goes well, waterski could produce a world champion for Malaysia in Aaliyah Yoong in the next five years.
Malaysian Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (MWWF) head coach and chairman of development committee Hanifah Yoong predicted that Aaliyah would have her first shot for a world junior title in 2020 in the Under-17 category.
“Aaliyah turns 15 in July this year. She actually has a good shot for a podium spot in this year’s IWWF (International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation) Under-17 World Championship, which will be held in Madrid, Spain, in August,” said Hanifah.
“From then on, she’ll aim for the world open women’s title in 2021 and 2023 world championships. I believe she’ll achieve it by the 2023 edition,” he said.
Aaliyah had lifted the waterski sport’s profile in Malaysia since MWWF launched their 10-year plan to develop Malaysian athletes to be world-level waterskiers.
Hanifah added Aaliyah thrived on pressure based on her ability to exceed targets.
“She has often re-adjusted targets set for herself since she turned 12. She always set higher goals,” said Hanifah. “Aaliyah seemed to relish on being under pressure as shown recently in the 2017 SEA Games. She delivered three gold medals although the target was only two.”
Meanwhile, Hanifah added that the IWWF were actively pushing for waterski and wakeboard to be included in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games programme.
“The MWWF development programme is supported by the National Sports Council and National Sports Institute and we thank them for their valuable contribution, without which we would not have progressed to this stage.
“We hope that the Olympic Council of Malaysia will also push for and support the initiative by IWWF to have waterski and wakeboard be included in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. We’ll have a gold medal potential from Aaliyah by then.”