PETALING JAYA: After a sensational season last year, Malaysian teenage waterski prodigy Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah (pic) will be looking to up her game when she goes into the water for her first competition of the year in Australia this week.
The 16-year-old is coming off a season of many firsts – she became the first Malaysian waterskier to reach the final of the World Championships where she eventually placed ninth, and she also capped a glorious outing at the Asian Waterski Championships in September where she swept all four gold medals, in the slalom, tricks, jump and overall.
To top if off, Aaliyah also smashed her own personal best to set a new Asian Championship record in tricks with a score of 7,680 points.
The spunky teenager is set for another first as she will, for the first time, compete in all three events in both the junior and Open categories of the famous pro-event Moomba Masters that is held annually on the Yarra River in Melbourne from March 4-9.
It is a significant level up for Aaliyah, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the world for tricks and No. 3 overall in the Under-17 category.
It is also a good opportunity for Aaliyah to try and close the gap on the world’s elite waterskiers, especially with the World Junior Waterski Championships that is to be held in Florida later in August.
“The expectations for Aaliyah is for her to try and better her performances from last year, ” explained Malaysian Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (MWWF) head coach Hanifah Yoong.
“This is because we want to try and consolidate her world rankings in order to get a good seeding for the world juniors in August.
“It’s definitely going to be a big challenge for her at the Moomba this time because it’s the first time she will compete in three events in both the junior and open categories.
“But she’s feeling fit now and has been on song in training, so hopefully this will be a good outing for her, ” added Hanifah, who is also Aaliya’s father.
While the Open category may be a step too high for now, Aaliyah is certainly a medal prospect for the junior events, especially in her pet events, tricks and overall.
She finished on the podium in both these disciplines last year. This year, she wants a third podium, in the jump, and top spot in the tricks.
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