KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian water skiing golden child and Asia’s number one Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah today received a scholarship worth RM1.1 million from Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) to pursue her studies in Florida, the United States (US) starting January next year.
Aaliyah will be pursuing a Bachelor Degree In Psychology at Florida Southern College, which is a prestigious college with top-tier facilities and has produced world-class skiers.
YSD chairman Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar said the five-year scholarship would support Aaliyah to pursue both her aspirations of becoming world number one in waterskiing and her dream of acquiring a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“YSD is impressed with all of Aaliyah’s achievements internationally at a very young age which indicates her high potential, and we have awarded her with this scholarship. Not many have been awarded this prestigious scholarship from YSD.
“She (Aaliyah) is truly an inspiration to us all, and she is well on her way to becoming world number one in water skiing,” he said in his speech during the Aaliyah Yoong’s Journey to be World Champion press conference at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club here, today.
Meanwhile, Aaliyah, who won bronze in Open Women Tricks at the 2022 World Games and thus became the first Malaysian water skier to clinch a medal at the World Games, described that education is crucial to her sport success.
“I am enthusiastic about sports and aspire to be one of the many who brings about change to the world through the power of sports.
“I also wish to be equipped with the skills and knowledge that will enhance sports development in the country with an emphasis on sports psychology,” said the 19-year-old athlete.
Aaliyah first started water skiing at five years old and obtained her first gold medal at the 2011 SEA Games when she was eight and has collected a total of six gold so far and now ranks 1st in Asia in slalom, tricks, jump, and overall besides being 3rd in the world for both Under-21 overall and tricks category.
Aaliyah, who is also the YSD Star Scholar and ambassador, has also progressively risen in the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IF) global rankings, climbing from 19th to the current 11th place in the Open Women Overall category as of November this year.
In 2023, Aaliyah will open her campaign in the Moomba Masters in Melbourne, Australia in March, and participate in two U-21 world championships in Mexico in June before competing at the open world championships in Florida in October.
For the record, previous YSD Star Scholarship Award recipients include track cyclist Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang and golfer Kelly Tan. Both of whom were supported in their academic pursuits while excelling in their athletic fields. – BERNAMA