This 13-Year-Old Malaysian is a Champion Water Skier, and She's More Relatable Than You Think

Except maybe she has more gold medals than you did when you were 13.

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This 13-Year-Old Malaysian is a Champion Water Skier, and She's More Relatable Than You Think
A glance at Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah's accolades throughout the years and you'll be amazed that she has accomplished so much, and wants to do even more, at just 13 years old.

Seriously, we were questioning our lives when we leant that she could do backflips while waterskiing. How cool is that? When we were 13, we were busy getting hit by basketballs, reading comics, playing video games and eating way too much junk food. 

Image: Disney

Aaliyah is not only Asia's number one ranked Open Women tricks skier; she's also listed in the Top 10 World Ranking for the "Under-17" category in girls tricks and top 30 in the World Ranking for the "Open Women" category by the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation following her achievements at the Moomba Masters Championship in Melbourne, Australia. 

Most notably, she was the youngest ever gold medalist in the 50 years of SEA Games history at only eight years old (2011); and the youngest gold medalist in the history of Asian Women and Under-17 Tricks championships when she was only 10 years old!

Image: Disney

Recently, she was appointed as one of the four South East Asian representatives of the Dream Big Princess campaign by Disney Channel, and will share her story of passion and perseverance in an on-air feature on Disney Channel. 

Curious about the person behind such achievements, Rojak Daily talked to her about what life's like being a teenage athlete, discovering that even with those accolades, she's a normal 13-year-old girl who everyone could relate to. 

RD: What's the latest fun thing you did with your friends?
AH: It was a sleepover because my friend is leaving for Australia and I'm so sad. Anyway, it was their third time sleeping over at my house. We watched Me Before You and I bawled. It was so sad. I had the best time. 

RD: What do you do when you get your downtime? 
AH: I play the piano, I read a lot of books, I also do horse-riding. I actually do multiple sports. Water skiing is my career but I have distractions, like volleyball at school and sprinting. 

RD: What kind of student are you at school? 
AH: I'm not a [straight-A's] student, but I'm OK, I guess! [Laughs]
Image: Disney

RD: What kind of music do you listen to? 
AH: I listen to rock music. I love My Chemical Romance. But then I'm so sad that the band died out. It's loud and it gets me in the groove. 

RD: What's your favourite book? 
AH: My favourite book is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. My favourite author is Patrick Ness. 

RD: What is your favourite location to practise?
AH: I actually only have one location to practise locally. It's in Putrajaya. But the best place I've ever been to is a ski school near Santa Rosa Beach in Florida, USA. 

RD: Lots of boys and girls get scared of the water. If someone were to tell you, "I'm scared of swimming", what would you say?
AH: That's really common. I would say, "You have a life jacket, you won't drown…" 

RD: In your group of friends, what role do you play? Are you the prankster, the loud one or..? 
AH: I'm like the really scary one. Last week, my friend told me that everyone's scared of me. I was like "Why?" and they said, "You can look like you can murder someone…" 

RD: What does a princess mean to you? 
AH: To me, a princess is someone that's kind and good. That's what makes them a princess.

RD: Which athletes are your role models?
AH: Clementine Lucine from France, and also Regina Jaquess from the USA. [Jaquess] is a pharmacist too. Most athletes don't get to focus much in school because they put a lot of effort in sports, but she can do both things and be good at them.  

Image: Disney

RD: What do you want study? 
AH: I want to study physiotherapy. But that might change.  

RD: What is your dream?
AH: To be a world champion in water skiing. 

RD: What's your advice for teenagers who want to be good at sports?
AH: If you actually get into that sport, then you should try not to drift away from it. If you want it, then you have to believe you can do it.  

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