Malaysia’s eight-year-old Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah created waves at the Jakabaring Lake when she grabbed gold in the women’s tricks category at the 26th SEA Games today, becoming the youngest athlete to ever win a gold medal in the history of the games.
She skiied confidently through her first round routine, scoring 2,810 points, and nailed a one-leg trick in the second round to earn 2,960 points.
Being much shorter and smaller than the other contestants, her appearance at the lake had drawn attention from spectators and the media.
Aaliyah said she felt excited to win the gold medal for Malaysia.
“I was confident all the way. I almost lost my balance in the first round but luckily I didn’t,” she sheepishly told reporters.
Thailand’s Sareeya Promsuntisit won silver with 2,410 points in the first round and 2,570 in the second, while another Malaysian, Phillipa Yoong-Barly, netted bronze with 1,890 (first round) and 1860 points (second round).
Aaliyah’s father, Hanifah Yoong, said his daughter had been water skiing since she was five.
“We don’t want to push her too hard because she’s still a child . We don’t want her to be pressured. But she enjoys training very much, it’s like she’s addicted to the sport,” he said.
He said Aaliyah underwent training five days a week and still had time to play with her friends.