Aaliyah finishes fourth in tricks to cap fine World Juniors outing

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 Teenager Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah capped a fine outing with her best ever finish at the World Junior Waterski Championships in Madrid.

The 15-year-old had previously failed to make the cut for the finals in her outing in the 2016 Worlds in Santiago, Chile.

The triple KL SEA Games gold medallist however finally earned a breakthrough when she made the top-12 final of the tricks event by being placedvfifth with a score 6,020 on Saturday.

Aaliyah then went one better in the final a day later as she eventually finished fourth. It was a bittersweet finish for the plucky youngster as she only managed 5,790 points in new conditions to just slip behind bronze medallist Daniela Verswyvel of Colombia who tallied 6,120 points.

Canada’s Neilly Ross continued to lead from start to finish as she claimed gold with 9,570 while American Kennedy Hansen took the silver with 7,750 points.

Buoyed by the solid finish, Aaliyah who is also a three-event skier competing in slalom and jump, is also set to finish fifth in the overall category with a total score of 2,357.41.

She had earlier finished 13th in both the slalom and jump events, narrowly missing on the finals by one spot. Even more credible was she missed the jump final only by 30cm and slalom final by half a ball.

Despite missing out on the podium, Aaliyah was nonetheless still pleased with her overall effort.

“I have to say that I’m pretty satisfied with my performances as I broke personal bests and records in the jump and slalom event,” said Aaliyah who set a new national mark of 35.9m in jump and a new Asian open record in slalom with 3.0 buoys/55kph/12m.



“It was basically the best I could have done in both those events. Tricks on the other hand didn’t go so well. I think my body changed a fair bit from the last 12 months. I was gaining more mass mostly from muscles and that set me back a bit in tricks since my body had changed in equilibrium for tricks. I will need to go back to basics and re-learn my movements in this off season.

“But overall I’m still happy with a fourth place finish in tricks and fifth in the overall,” added Aaliyah.

Malaysian Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (MWWF) head coach Hanifah Yoong explained that focusing on improving tricks will be the plan for Aaliyah now.

“Concentrating on jump and slalom in the last 12 months took a toll on her tricks. We’ve got to get back to basics in training tricks,” said Hanifah.

“We’ll be concentrating on tricks more now whilst also balancing slalom and jump but at a slower pace.

“We worked on three events because she is the anchor for our SEA Games team and she’s grown to enjoy jumping and slaloming now too.

“But going forward, we’ll be working towards getting on the podium for the 2020 edition with hopefully a gold too.”

Meanwhile Aaliyah’s younger brothers – Aiden, 12 and Adam, 10, also had a creditable outing in Madrid.

Aiden finished overall 25th in tricks with a score of 3,520 while Adam, the national record holder and SEA Games gold medallist, placed 17th with a score of 4,410.

Hanifah on behalf of MWWF thanks the National Sports Council Malaysia (NSC) for the funding and support to make this important milestone to be successfully achieved and the Putrajaya Corporation (PPj) for the excellent waterski national training facilities in Putrajaya.


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