MELBOURNE – Siblings Aaliyah and Aiden Yoong Hanifah were 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, two hours from Melbourne on Sunday.
The triple gold medallist of 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 routine, 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 wrest home the gold medal ahead of Australians Sade Ferguson (3,940) and Layne Moroney (3,930).
Aaliyah however should still 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 was 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 Davis (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 are Nautique Boats of USA, D3 Skis, Perbadanan Putrajaya and WWWC.