Everything to know about Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah, Malaysia’s water ski queen

Recently, Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah won the bronze medal at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, the USA, for her performance in the women’s tricks event. Here are five things to know about this up-and-coming sportswoman.

Her historic win at the 2022 World Games has officially marked Aaliyah Yoong as one of the national sportswomen to watch. Having just turned 19, the teenage national skier made a splash, having scored an outstanding 7,960 in the tricks final at the Oak Mountain State Park Lake. At the meet, she faced off six other elite skiers and finished after Canada’s Neilly Ross (9,690), and America’s Anna Gay (9,190), two of the most decorated skiers in the world.

Already a veteran of the sport, here are five things to know about Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah:



Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah is the first Asian woman to win a medal at the world level 

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Not only is this the first time the teen has bagged a medal on the world stage, but she made history when she scored the bronze. From this win, she also became the first Asian women’s skier to score a gong at the world level. What a feat!

She is pursuing a degree in psychology

In support of her journey to becoming the world’s number 1 in water skiing, Yayasan Sime Darby has awarded Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah with the YSD Star Scholarship Award for five years, which covers both the preparatory exams and the four-year overseas degree tuition. In her educational endeavours, Aaliyah chose the field of psychology as her focus.

Predecessors of this prestigious award include Olympic medallist Datuk Azizulhasi Awang and professional golfer Kelly Tan Guat Chen.

She entered the waterskiing scene at eight years old

She dabbled in waterskiing since she was five, watching contestants at the Putrajaya Lake performing tricks on the water. This sparked her interest in the sport, and three years later, she represented Malaysia at the 2011 SEA Games in Palembang. There, she effortlessly won a gold medal in the women’s trick event. Alongside her at the time, Philippa Clare also scored two golds in the sport.

She is the youngest to win gold at the SEA Games

As she made her way into the regional water skiing scene, Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah came in hot. Not only did she get a podium finish, but she scored the gold in her first-ever SEA Games in Bali. The moment was doubly momentous for the girl, who also became the youngest to win gold at the SEA Games.

Waterskiing is a family affair

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Her father, Hanifah Yoong is Malaysia’s national waterski coach, and her mother, Norzeela Sulaiman, is also part of the national waterski and wakeboard team — so suffice it to say that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Her two younger brothers, Aiden and Adam, are also leaving their marks in the waterskiing department, competing professionally for Malaysia. Her brother, Alex Yoong, is a professional racing driver for Malaysia as well.

The latest news on Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah

Aaliyah before completing the clean sweep. Image credit: Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah/Instagram
Aaliyah before completing the clean sweep. Image credit: Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah/Instagram

In August, this national waterskiing ace wrapped up the IWWF Asian Waterski Championships in Chuncheon, South Korea with four gold medals in her clutches. On 12 August 2022, the 19-year-old bagged the first gold after scoring 7,440 points in the women’s open tricks event.

On 13 August, she continued her gold streak with three more gold medals for the country in these categories: women’s open jump, women’s slalom, and the women’s overall.

Featured and hero images: Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah/Instagram

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