March 09, 2019

Teenage water skier Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah put up a strong showing in tricks to earn her best ever showing to date with two medals at the Junior Moomba in Melbourne.

The 15-year-old skier bounced back strongly following two falls at the Oceania Waterski Championships in Latrobe last week to post up a score of 7,230 points at the Yarra River on Thursday.

It was not too far off her personal best mark of 7,600 and she settled for silver behind world tricks champion, top seed and favourite Neilly Ross of Canada, who ranked in 8,790 points. Chile’s Josefa Gonzalez finished third with 4,880 points.

The silver medal finish also means Aaliyah equaled her efforts from 2014 and 2015. Both times she took home the silver in tricks as well. But this year, Aaliyah will certainly be pleased with herself knowing that she will return with at least two medals. This is because she also settled for silver in the overall event, with a total of 2,668.74 points. Australia’s junior world championship Sade Ferguson won the overall gold courtesy of also winning the slalom and jump events for an overall total of 2,677.73 points.

It was a close miss for Aaliyah and she will certainly rue her chances of finishing on top of the podium at the Moomba event for the first time since her debut in 2013. Unfortunately, she only managed an eighth placed finish in slalom with 5.5/55.14.25 and narrowly missed out on finishing third in jump after producing a distance of 35m. Ferguson took the jump gold with a 40m distance while New Zealand’s Lily Meade was second with 38m. A second Aussie – Molly Ferguson, who is Sade’s older sister was third with a 36.7m. If Aaliyah had made the podium in the jump, she would have beaten Sade to the overall gold medal. Nevertheless, it is still an excellent result for Aaliyah who is surely on track to challenge for a podium finish at the World Junior Championships in 2020.

“I am very happy that I am able to match the jump world junior champion Sade in overall as she is the favourite for the world junior title in 2020. That is the yardstick I am aiming for,” said Aaliyah. Losing gold in overall to Sade by a mere few points shows that I am certainly able to challenge for the overall world junior title next year.”

Malaysian Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (MWWF) head coach Hanifah Yoong added that Aaliyah has come within striking distance of Sade and Kennedy Hansen of the US, who are the top two junior skiers in the world right now. “She showed at the Junior Moomba that she is not only a contender for the world junior tricks title but also in overall,” said Hanifah who is also Aaliyah’s father. She has certainly come a long way in progressing in both jump and slalom in addition to her tricks discipline. She is expected to be ranked No. 3 in overall behind Kennedy and Sade at the 2020 world juniors so she has to stay within striking distance for all three disciplines of jump, slalom and tricks. As for tricks, she is already No. 2 behind Kennedy so she certainly stands a chance at the world junior title next year.”

Aaliyah, who is a student with the Nexus International School will now take a break in order to focus for her IGCSE exams in May. She will return to intensive training after May and her next major event will be the Waterski World Championships that is held in Putrajaya in August 2019. 

Aaliyah’s participation in the Nautique Moomba Masters is supported by the National Sports Council of Malaysia, Putrajaya Corporation, Nautique Boats and D3 Skis of USA.


March 04, 2019

MELBOURNE – Siblings Aaliyah and Aiden Yoong Hanifah are off to a smashing start to the 2019 calendar after podium finishes at the Oceania Waterski Championships.

The 15-year-old Aaliyah continued to make her mark as three-event skier as she finished with one win and two seconds at Latrobe, 2 hours from Melbourne on Sunday.

The triple gold medalist from the 2017 KL SEA Games snatched a win in her pet event – tricks despite falling way off her personal best score 7,600 points.

Aaliyah, who was trying to incorporate new tricks into her run, posted up a score of 4,340 in the final which was still an improvement from the 3,660 she posted in the first round.

Although it wasn’t a very good score, it was still enough for her to squeeze home the gold ahead of Australians Sade Ferguson (3,940) and Layne Moroney (3,930).

Aaliyah however will be pleased with her efforts in both slalom and jump in which she finished with silver, twice behind Ferguson.

For slalom, she ramped up a run of 0.5/55/12 behind Ferguson’s run of 4.5/55/12 while she had a distance of 37.8m in jump. Ferguson narrowly took the top spot with a distance of 41.5m.

Aaliyah however will be exceptionally pleased with her effort in jump especially since she broke her own national record during the first round on Saturday. Then she flew a distance of 38.9m to erase the previous record of 35.6m.

“This weekend’s performance was fulfilling for two events – slalom and jump, but a bummer in tricks,” said Aaliyah.

“It’s my first time doing a new 6-flip sequence in a tournament that starts off with a big trick. It’s probably not the best trick to start off with and I’ll go with a smaller point flip in the future.

“Fortunately this tournament is just a practice before the Moomba Masters event next week which is my main objective.”

While Aaliyah had a mixed bag of results, 13-year-old Aiden was grinning from ear-to-ear after a top notch showing in men’s tricks all weekend.

Aiden, the middle sibling, had always fallen short in competitions especially against his younger brother Adam who had stolen ahead by winning the SEA Games gold in 2017.

There was no stopping Aiden this time as he went on a record breaking run, not once but twice.

First he put a score of 5,520 during the first round on Saturday to erase Adam’s national record score of 4,750 points.

Not contented, Aiden came back out during the final to put up a run of 5,680 points, rewriting the record for the second time in a matter of days.

To put the icing on the cake, he also finished with a bronze medal behind Australians Archie David (8,680) and Patrick Crisp (7,030).

The 11-year-old Adam on the other hand wasn’t too far behind as he notched 4,310 points in the final, an improvement from his 4,000 points the previous day, to settle for fourth place.

“I’ve waited more than 18 months for this. It is sweet to finally beat Adam’s national record in open men’s tricks,” said Aiden.

Aaliyah and her father cum coach Hanifah Yoong will continue to stay on in Australia where Aaliyah is due to compete at the prestigious Moomba Masters from March 6-11.

The trip down under was made possible with support from the Malaysian Ministry of Youth & Sports with MWWF’s chief coach Hanifah saying, “Team Malaysia Waterski this year again has the support of the National Sports Council of Malaysia for the 2019 training and competition programme and we look forward to see our athletes continue to improve in the world rankings.”

Other sponsors include Natique Boats of USA, D3 Skis, Perbadanan Putrajaya and WWWC.


February 21, 2019

PUTRAJAYA – Teenager Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah has been invited again to participate in 2019 Moomba Masters held in the city of Melbourne scheduled for the 6th to the 11th of March 2019.

This will be the 7th appearance in the Moomba Masters for the 15 year old Aaliyah who made her debut in  2013 when she was a mere 9 year old competing in the junior Moomba for U18 girls.

Aaliyah had ascended the podium three times in the junior Moomba girls tricks event when she finished 2nd in 2014, 2nd again in 2015 and 3rd in 2017. Her highest placement in the pro-women tricks event was 8th.

She is looking forward to get up on the junior girls podium again this year in another 2 disciplines of jump and overall besides her pet event of tricks. Aaliyah is seeded no. 2 in girls tricks, no. 4 in girls jump and no. 12 in girls slalom.

In pro-women tricks Aaliyah is seeded no. 12 in a star studded filed which include 8 present and past world champions. World champions invited for the pro women tricks include Erika Lang and Anna Gay from USA, Neilly Ross and Whitney McClintock from Canada, Natalia Bernikava from Belarus, Jacinta Carroll from Australia.

For warm up, Aaliyah is also slotted to participate in the 2019 Oceanian championships scheduled for the 2nd and 3rd March in Latrobe city 2 hours out of Melbourne. Her siblings Aiden Yoong Hanifah, 13 and 2017 SEA Games gold medalist, Adam Yoong Hanifah, 11 will join Aaliyah in the Oceanian championships.

The 3 Malaysian national waterski athletes will depart for Melbourne with their coach and father Hanifah Yoong next week on the 26th of February.

Hanifah said, “Aaliyah has improved in all her 3 disciplines of tricks, slalom and jump in training past months. Especially so in jump which will put her in a strong position to have two chances for world championship podiums besides tricks in the years to come.”

The near term target is for her to be a junior world champion in 2020 but Aaliyah has to juggle her waterski career with her studies as this year is also her IGCSE exam year for the year 11 student of Nexus International School in Putrajaya.”

Aaliyah agrees it’s tough for her this year but, “I am going to try not to compromise my studies just for the sport and will work very hard in both. I am not alone in this as all young athletes on the way up go through this phase of important exams in school.”

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