Top of the waterworld

Promising star: Aaliyah Yoong posing with the trophies and medals she has accumulated over the years

Malaysian water skier Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah is one who does not give up on her dream. Last July, she lost the chance to win her first world junior title after she and her father-cum-coach Hanifah Yoong came down with Covid-19. They had to pull out from the event held in Florida, United States in August. Four months later, the 18-year-old Aaliyah is back determined than ever in her pursuit to become the country’s world No. 1 water skier. And her dream to excel received a tremendous boost when she was named as the recipient of the Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) Star Scholarship Award, a grant that will enable her to pursue her tertiary education while also juggling between training and competitions. Under the scholarship, Aaliyah, who has also been chosen as their ambassador, will pursue her tertiary education in psychology in the United States. Aaliyah, who is currently ranked fifth in the world in tricks and became the first Malaysian to reach a final at the world championships in 2019, was grateful for the opportunity to realise her dream. “I’m thankful to YSD for this opportunity and it will take a huge load off our backs,” said Aaliyah, who was the youngest gold medallist at the SEA Games when she won the tricks event at the 2011 edition in Palembang at age eight. “It will motivate me to achieve my dream to be No. 1 in the world and I’m very excited and hopeful for what the future holds.” Aaliyah also added that she hoped to play the role of YSD ambassador to encourage more women and youth to take up sports. “I realised there are fewer women in sports compared to the men. “I hope to encourage more to realise their full potential,” said Aaliyah. Meanwhile YSD chairman Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar, spoke highly of Aaliyah. “Aaliyah’s outstanding values and drive align with YSD’s aims of assisting youths to realise their fullest potential as well as cultivating role models to inspire youth, especially girls and women in sports,” said Tunku Imran. “We are thrilled to have her on board as she strives to become the waterski world champion someday soon, while we ensure that Aaliyah receives the critical support to achieve her academic dreams.” The YSD have awarded a total 209 scholarships and bursaries worth more than RM17mil to youths to pursue their tertiary studies.

Courtesy from – The Star