The Malaysian Waterski & Wakeboard Federation’s head coach and chairman of development committee, Hanifah Yoong, predicts that if all goes well waterski will see a world champion from Malaysia in the next five years.
Hanifah said today, “I see Aaliyah who will turn 15 this year in July, having her first shot for a world title in 2020 to become a world U17 champion when she turns 17. She will have a good shot for a podium spot in this year’s IWWF U17 World Championship which will be held in Madrid, Spain in August.”
“From then on she will be aiming for the world open women title in 2021 and 2023 world championships and I believe she will achieve that in the 2023 world championship,” he added.
Aaliyah had lifted the waterski sport’s profile in Malaysia since MWWF launched their 10-year plan to develop Malaysian athletes to be world level waterskiers and this plan was declared “mission accomplished” at end of 2017 by MWWF when Aaliyah established herself firmly as an elite athlete in IWWF’s world ranking lists.
MWWF now has a new development plan to continue to the next level by throwing all support for Aaliyah to achieve being the first Malaysian, as well as being the first Asian world champion in waterski within 5 years from 2018.
Hanifah also said that Aaliyah thrives on pressure as shown by the annual targets she set for herself past years.
“In the beginning when she started showing her potential, we secretly planned targets without her knowing as she was too young to be placed in a position of extra pressures from MWWF. The focus was on her to enjoy the sport, nurture her passion for the sport and continue to love training.”
“But since two years ago when she turned twelve, she was actively involved in target setting and had often re-adjusted forecasts on a upwards trend. She seemed to relish on being under pressure as shown recently in the 2017 SEA Games when she delivered three gold medals despite knowing the target was only two gold medals from her?.”?
She achieved the feat despite having to live up to the expectations of a fiercely vociferous home crowd support and also having contracted viral fever just before she took to the first day of competition.”
Following Aaliyah’s footsteps are her two younger brothers who had also started to emerge in the IWWF world ranking lists. Adam, 10 is now ranked No 1 in Asia U17, with Aiden, 12, in No 2 spot. They are also ranked in Asia open men tricks in No 2 and No 3 respectively.
Hanifah also noted that the IWWF is actively pursuing to see waterski & wakeboard included into the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games programme and as it is, it is likely that Britain will propose this.
He concluded saying,: “The MWWF development programme is supported by the National Sports Council and National Sports Institute and we thank them for their valuable contribution, without which we would not have progressed to this stage. We however, hope that the Olympic Council of Malaysia will also push for and support the initiative by IWWF to have waterski & wakeboard be included in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. We will have a gold medal potential from Aaliyah then.”