Malaysian water skiing prodigy Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah has contracted COVID-19, forcing her to pull out of the upcoming IWWF World Junior Championships in America
In a report by Bernama, it stated that Aaliyah had tested positive for the virus earlier this week, alongside her father and coach Hanifah Yoong.
She was scheduled to compete at the World Junior meet being held at Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, from 22 to 29 August, but has now withdrawn.
The decision was announced by the Malaysian Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (MWWF) in a statement yesterday, 28 July, after consultations with National Sports Council (NSC) director general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail.
The athlete was left devastated, as this would have been her last World Junior meet.
"I know there's still a next time in regard to competitions, but it's still a very devastating outcome for me as I was looking forward to the World Junior title as it is the last year I am eligible for the Under-17 title," she shared.
The championships, full designation '2020 IWWF World Junior Waterski Championships', had been slated to begin in August 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic.
Aaliyah had actually turned 18 earlier this month, but qualified for the original Meet as one of the oldest eligible competitors, and was thus allowed to contest the Under-17 title during the postponed date.
After many big sacrifices were made, she will now have to wait for another shot at a major title
Her father Hanifah – who is also MWWF president – said that they had pulled her out of school last year to prepare for the World Junior meet, and that winning outright was their goal.
In fact, Aaliyah has collected over 9,000 points in training alone, despite a marked lack of competition over the past two years.
"We are also sorry to the sponsors, both local and international, for being unable to compete at the world juniors. We are indeed very grateful for their continuous support," Hanifah said.
Aaliyah hails from a family of five siblings, of which all are national athletes of some standing. This includes her eldest brother Alex Yoong, who remains the first and only Malaysian Formula One driver.