Eureka for Aaliyah

Reason to smile: Malaysia’s 16-year-old Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah broke the Asian record twice en route to finishing ninth in the tricks event at the World Waterski Championships yesterday.

PUTRAJAYA: Aaliyah Yoong ended her maiden appearance in the World Waterski Championships in style by lowering her own Asian record en route to a respectable top 10 finish in the women’s tricks final in Putrajaya.

The ever-smiling Aaliyah fell at the end of her routine but it was good enough to see her finish ninth, earning 7, 440 points on her scorecard to better the Asian record of 7, 320 points she set in the preliminaries on Friday.

The 16-year-old, who has been tipped as a huge talent for the future in the discipline, said she could not have asked for more in the final featuring the top 12 skiers in the world.

“I’m really happy with my performance today (yesterday) although I fell and did not get my last two tricks in, ” said Aaliyah.

“I’m lucky the judges didn’t take my last flip and I got a higher score than in the preliminaries.

“For me to exceed 7, 000 points twice in a row is amazing and I hope to be more consistent in the future.

“I actually felt more nervous in the preliminaries because it was my first time on the water for the tricks event here and I really wanted to make the final.

“I also had a bit of an advantage here because this is my home ground. I’ve been here for 11 years, so I know how it is, ” said Aaliyah, who also finished 10th in the women’s overall category with a score of 1, 984.63 points.

Aaliyah, who is only ranked 35th in the world, is hoping to improve in all three disciplines – tricks, slalom, jump – and possibly challenge for a podium position at the world meet in the near future.

“Tricks is my main event but I want to be a good skier overall. I actually like doing all three disciplines.

“I’m still quite far from a podium position at the moment. I still have a few more steps to go but hopefully, it will be achievable in the near future.”

Anna Gay reclaimed the gold medal she last won in 2015 for United States in women’s tricks after putting up a huge score of 10, 530 points.

The silver went to Peru’s Natalia Cuglievan, who scored 9, 570 while Germany’s Giannina Bonnemann took the bronze with 8, 740 points.

The 2013 winner Erika Lang, the world record holder from United States, fell in both her passes to finish with a score of 3, 710 points in 12th spot while 2017 winner Neilly Ross of Canada suffered a big tumble on her second pass to finish with only 5, 840 points in 11th spot.

Canada’s Whitney McClintock-Rini grabbed the overall gold with a score of 2, 569.21 points, dethroning three-time overall champion Regina Jaquess of US in the process.

The silver went to Belarus skier Hanna Straltsova (2, 465.71) and American Brooke Baldwin took the bronze (2, 448.92).

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