Top Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal has signed a three-year deal worth a reported $7.4 million with a sports management company, underlining badminton’s growth in the otherwise cricket-crazy country.
The only non-Chinese in the top five of women’s badminton, Nehwal won a bronze in this year’s London Olympics and capped the celebrations by signing a contract with Rhiti Sports that makes her India’s highest paid sportsperson outside cricket.
"With Rhiti’s background and credibility, they know how to balance things and that is a big plus point," Nehwal said in a media release.
According to Wednesday’s Indian Express newspaper, the three-year deal with the company which also manages Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is worth 400 million Indian rupees.
"We’re very thrilled with the base amount and it’s an honour since she’s the first non-cricket athlete they’ve taken on," Nehwal’s father Harvir Singh told the newspaper.
"We are proud to be associated with someone who is not only a youth icon for women in the country but has also done a lot for badminton as a sport," said Arun Pandey, chairman and managing director of Rhiti Sports.
"She has placed India on the world map for badminton and changed the outlook of people in India towards the sport."
($1 = 54.055 Indian rupees)