On a new high


Saina Nehwal becomes the highest paid sportsperson other than a cricketer in the country following her three-year deal with Rhiti Sports Management. By V. V. Subrahmanyam.

Saina Nehwal has stepped into a new zone on the sponsorship front. Fresh from her bronze medal-winning performance at the 2012 London Olympics, the 22-year-old badminton star from Hyderabad has signed a three-year deal worth Rs. 40 crore with Rhiti Sports Management. This makes Saina the highest paid sportsperson other than a cricketer in India.

“Yes, I am happy with the way things have gone of late,” said Saina. “I should thank Mr. Vinod Dhawan of the Delhi Badminton Association for this deal coming through, and also Rhiti Sports for showing so much interest in me,” she added.

Saina’s father, Dr. Harvir Singh, was on record saying that with Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd., the owner of the Indian Premier League team Deccan Chargers, not showing the desired interest in renewing the deal with Saina, which had expired in July, she had decided to sign up with Rhiti Sports Management.

Interestingly, while Deccan Chargers paid a base price of Rs. 1.5 crore per annum, Saina is expected to get Rs. 14 crore from Rhiti Sports Management.

“I never expected this kind of a thing to happen. I am also happy that I am the first non-cricketing sportsperson to achieve this. I should say that I am blessed,” Saina observed.

“Obviously, money is not the only thing that matters. What is more important is to keep winning at the highest level. I am aware that whatever is happening now on the financial front is because I have been performing well,” said Saina, who is ranked No. 4 in the world.

“I am aware that I have to be more focussed, and I would like to insist that my big dream remains to be chased, that of winning the Olympic gold,” said the winner of five Super Series titles besides the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medal.