PETALING JAYA: Teenage waterskier Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah is back with a bang after a two-year lapse.
The 18-year-old missed two years of action as her competition plans took a heavy beating because of the Covid-19 disruptions.
However, Aaliyah has picked up where she left off by storming to an impressive three-gold haul at the Junior Moomba in Melbourne yesterday.
Aaliyah, whose last competition was also at the Moomba meet in 2020, claimed gold in tricks, jump and the overall category on the challenging Yarra River venue.
To top it off, she also performed above expectations by bagging bronze in the slalom event.
Competing in the junior event for her 10th and final year, the spunky teenager got off to a flying start as she nailed the gold in tricks – her pet event.
Aaliyah, who sat on top of the leaderboard after posting 5,030 points in the first round, scored 6,780 to finish ahead of the field.
Australian Erica Hayes came second with 5,690 while Chile’s Dominga Gonzalez was third with a distant 3,580.
In slalom, Aaliyah who was placed fifth after the first round, rose to the challenge with a clearance of 3/55/13 (three buoys/55kmh/13m rope) to finish behind Australians Lara Butlin (1/55/12) and Milla Hunter Bennett (4/55/13) respectively.
She would save the best for last, coming out with guns blazing to claim the jump gold with a new personal best.
Aaliyah had already smashed her own personal best and the national record with a leap of 39.5m in the first round on Wednesday.
She did even better this time, cracking the 40m mark with a leap of 41.4m for the win.
American waterskier Elizabeth Hall was second with 33.5m while Australia’s Kristy Appleton came third with 30.9m.
Aaliyah’s two golds and the bronze was enough to secure her the overall gold with a total score of 2,891.89 points with Australians Bennett (2,032.98) and Butlin (1,980.36) in second and third respectively.
She was pleased to end her participation in the junior ranks on a high note.
“I love competing in the Moomba Masters and its definitely one of my favourite and one of my top events in the world.
“I definitely love the challenge on the Yarra River and it is huge to get a personal best in jump in my 10th year here as 41.4m is huge for me,” she said.
Malaysian Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (MWWF) head coach Hanifah Yoong added that Aaliyah’s performance was indeed a surprise.
“Aaliyah continues to surprise and her performance the past two days showed how strong she is now, both physically and mentally.
“It is not easy to compete in three events in both the junior and open category because it means you are competing on the water for more than 12 times in just six days.”
With the junior event done and dusted, Aaliyah will move on to compete in the open category where she will look to make her mark as well.