Bangalore, Oct 14. (PTI): Two of India's famed shuttlers Prakash Padukone and Vimal Kumar believe that Morten Frost Hansen, the game's richest player ever, is a perfect role model for those aspiring to make it big in world badminton.
The way the legendary Morten went about earning name, fame and money was amazing, said the Indian duo as the four-time All England champion visits the Karnataka Badminton Association here to conduct a three-day clinic for coaches.
"In Europe he was really the undisputed No.1 and there was nobody to challenge him. Because of the consistency with which he used to win tournaments, in terms of prize money maybe he is the only one to earn more than a million dollars from badminton. This is apart from the big endorsements he had signed," said Vimal, who first saw the Dane when he played his maiden All England Championships in 1981.
It was sheer consistency that made a gritty Morten more successful especially with the tough Chinese and Indonesian players around. Vimal had a closer look at Morten's personality when he played for five years at the Wimbledon Squash and Badminton Club in south west London where Frost shifted his base to in the later half of eighties.
"What I really appreciate in Morten is the fact that he was equally at ease when he was playing in the far east heat as well as the cooler Europe. While the Indonesians and Malaysians found it difficult to play in Europe, Frost survived playing in non-airconditioned Asian stadiums with about 20,000 people watching him," said Vimal.
What is wrong with the prize money structure now?
"Earlier the priority in prize money was basically on prime events like the men's singles and the ladies singles. Over the years even though the prize money has increased the distribution percolates down to ladies doubles, mixed doubles etc. Thus the present players are not earning as much as Frost used to earn," said Vimal, a former national coach.
However, Vimal felt that the current players could also earn more provided they consistently play all the big tournaments.
"Morten and Prakash were the early professionals when the game became open (in 1979). Morten never missed anything, be it a club tournament in Denmark or the big Grand Prix tournaments. The present players cannot earn as much as them unless they consistently play all the big events and win."
The legendary Prakash also felt that compared to other sports, prize money has not increased substantially in badminton.
"Compared to some of the other sports like tennis, cricket, boxing, football or golf, badminton has not made such rapid strides. Even now the highest average prize money a men's singles player wins will be in the range of about 15,000-20,000 US dollars."
Prakash, in fact, defeated a young Morten to bag the 3000 pounds first-ever prize money tournament in the history of badminton — French Provident Masters held at Royal Albert Hall in 1979. Before that because of the amateur code of the International Olympic Committee, the highest prize money any badminton player could get was only about 100 dollars.
(source: The Star Online)