Kuala Lumpur, 5 December 2022 – Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) today celebrated Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah, YSD Star Scholar, Ambassador and number 1 water ski athlete in Malaysia and Asia. She is set to depart to the United States of America in January 2023 to pursue her tertiary education at Florida Southern College, while training in the college’s top tier facilities, with a scholarship worth RM1.1 million.

The event was hosted by Y.A.M. Tunku Tan Sri Imran Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar, YSD Chairman, and was joined by the Malaysian Waterski and Wakeboard Foundation (MWWF) President Mr Alexander Yoong, the MWWF committee and the National Senior Women’s Cricket Team, who is also supported by YSD under the National Cricket Development Programme for Girls and Women.

Y.A.M. Tunku Tan Sri Imran formally presented the five-year scholarship to Aaliyah for her to pursue her tertiary education. She has already completed her Foundation studies, and will be furthering her studies pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at Florida Southern College and attend specialised training to participate in international competitions.

Aaliyah first started water skiing at 5 years old and obtained her first gold medal at the Sea Games when she was 8 years old winning the open women tricks event in Palembang, Indonesia. She now ranks 1st in Asia in slalom, tricks, jump, and overall, and 3rd in the world for both Under-21 overall and tricks category. The youngest SEA Games gold medallist in 51 years history of the SEA Games has also progressively risen in the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) global rankings, climbing from 19th to the current 11th in the Open Women Overall category as of November 1st, 2022.

Most recently, she finished first at the recent IWWF 2022 Waterski Oceania Championships where she effectively took the top spot in the tricks and overall event, maintaining her world rankings.

In 2023, she will open her campaign in the Moomba Masters in Melbourne, Australia and participate in two world championships, which are the U21 world championships in Mexico in June, and the open world championships in Florida in October.

Aaliyah has set her short term goal in 2023 to target a podium spot or win in either the tricks or overall event in the U21 worlds. Her long-term goal remains to be on the podium in the 2025 open worlds and hopefully becomes Malaysia’s and Asia’s first ever waterski world champion.

“Education is crucial to my 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 Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah.

Y.A.M. Tunku Tan Sri Imran Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar said, “YSD’s scholarship for Aaliyah will support her so she can pursue both her aspirations of becoming world number one in waterskiing, and her dream of acquiring her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. YSD is committed to promoting sporting excellence whilst harnessing the potential of our young athletes at various levels especially women and girls, to foster the development of stars to become future world champions.” He also expressed hope that the scholarship will inspire other young Malaysian athletes with high potential to strive for academic achievements while pursuing professional sports at the highest level.

Previous YSD Star Scholarship Award recipients include track cyclist Dato’ Azizulhasni Awang and golfer Kelly Tan, both of whom were supported in their academic pursuits while excelling in their athletic fields. YSD has also awarded over 5,400 scholarships totalling over RM401 million since its inception.

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Last Updated:
15 Dec 2022
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