Thursday, December 16, 2010

Waterskiing is child's play for seven year old Aaliyah

MUSCAT, 13 Dec, – At the age of five when most children her age are just learning to swim, Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah was twisting and contorting her body as it skimmed across the surface of the water at 25 km/h.

Now seven, she will line up against people nearly five times her age at the 2010 Muscat 2nd Asian Beach Games waterski competition in the Trick Skiing category at the Qantab Beach.

"I love how challenging it is and I spend all my time training. I am on school holidays at the moment but I have been at the lake nearly every day practicing.

"All my friends at school say I’m good and they want to try waterskiing as well," she said.

She was introduced to the sport by her father, Hanifah Yoong, who runs a waterskiing club in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, and followed in the footsteps of her half-sister Phillipa Clare Yoong Li Foong, who still competes and doubles as Aaliyah’s coach.

"The preparation for Aaliyah is quite different as generally kids are quite flighty and get distracted very easily, so it’s important to try to get them concentrating on the competition right before they go out." said Phillipa.

Aaliyah runs a tight schedule of training in the morning before attending school in the afternoon, but her coach doesn’t feel her sporting aspiration interferes with her education.

"She is pretty balanced although after school she still has homework. She does not get to bed until late, which is not ideal, but I think it works all right."

Aaliyah will face off against a strong field, including Asian champion Song Yufei (CHN), as the waterski qualifying begins on Tuesday before medals are decided on Wednesday.

The other Malaysian competitors are Hadri Ifran Mohamed Rahaziah (trick skiing), Shamal Norman Abdul Rahman (Wakeboarding) and Hanis Azemi (trick skiing).

Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah on her water ski.

Malaysian Water Ski team with Aaliyah young Hanifah, third from the right. Some of the others skiers in the photograph are, from left, Hanis Azemi (trick skiing), Phillipa Yoong Li Foong, Alex Yoong and Hadri Ifran Mohamed Rahaziah (trick skiing) fifth from left.

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