KUALA LUMPUR: It’s a Happy New Year indeed for world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei.
The Malaysian men’s singles shuttler finished 2013 as the top moneymaker in world badminton. The 31-year-old, a winner of seven Super Series titles, hit close to RM1mil in prize money. And that’s not counting his appearance fees and money won at several professional leagues, his allowance from the Badminton Association of Malaysia as well as the endorsements as brand ambassadors.
Yesterday, online sports news magazine Badzine unveiled the top 50 earners in 2013 based on the prize money won in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) sanctioned tournaments.
Chong Wei was a runaway winner with a total haul of US$292,540 (RM960,028). China’s Zhao Yunlei, a women doubles star, was second with US$167,195 (RM548,018) and women’s singles player Li Xuerui, also of China, took home US$143,095 (RM469,000).
Chong Wei admitted that it was his biggest payday in a single season.
“Indeed, it has been a great year for me – on and off the court. I was able to play consistently well at the highest level despite my age and I became a father,” said Chong Wei, the four-time BWF World Super Series Finals champion.
“It was my best season, winning win seven titles in the Super Series ..... a feat that may be quite difficult for me to repeat this year.
“Ten years ago, badminton paid peanuts. Now, we are better off than some other sports although we are quite far behind tennis and golf. I hope our sport will continue to grow.
“There is reward when one puts his heart and soul in it. I hope that my biggest monetary incentive will serve as a motivation for all in the Malaysian badminton team to outdo themselves in the New Year.”
For the new season, Chong Wei said he would try to keep his reputation intact as the king of the Super Series and come good in the four major tournaments – the Thomas Cup Finals, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Asian Games.
“I may have to skip several Super Series tournaments so that I can get it right in the major events. It is hard to peak in all,” he admitted.
“I showed that I was only human when I lost at the last World Championships (he conceded a walkover to Lin Dan of China in the final in Guangzhou due to cramps). I will try to get it right this year.
“My focus is the Commonwealth and Asian Games. These Games are held every four years and I will be featuring in it for the last time. I want to sweep both the titles.
“In reality, we don’t have a strong team for the Thomas Cup Finals. My New Year wish is for my team-mates to rise up to the occasion. All I want from them is to show great fighting spirit,” he added.
Chong Wei will have a chance to pick up more money this month with two lucrative tournaments coming up. He will be competing in the lucrative US$1mil (RM3.28mil) Korean Open from Jan 8-13 and US$400,000 (RM1.3mil) Malaysian Open from Jan 15-20. He is the defending champions of both tournaments.