Badminton Star Saina Joins Megabucks League
New Delhi: London Olympic bronze medallist and India’s beloved badminton star, Saina Nehwal, is joining the megabucks league with a Rs 40 crore ($8 million) three-year deal signed with a sports management company.
“I hope my medal will inspire more and more people and also popularize the sport even more in the country.”
The 22-year-old Saina will be back competing in three weeks from now when she plays in the Denmark Open Premier Super Series (Oct 16-21) and then in the French Open Super Series (Oct 23-28).
“I just needed some time out. I had been playing continuously right up to the Olympics as I really wanted to win the medal. I was so tired I badly needed a break,” said the Hyderabadi, who is back training fully.
“I am training like I used to earlier; seven hours a day. I am trying to get back my speed and momentum and with time I will get better.”
What did she do during the break?
“Not much. I was quite busy with all those felicitations and attending functions. I was in Tirupati over the weekend on a thanksgiving trip. What all I achieved in life is all thanks to the God.”
She also utilised the time in tying up some of her long-pending endorsements, the biggest being the Rs 40-crore deal with Rhiti Sports Management Company, which also markets India’s cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“Before the Olympics I was busy with the tournaments and practice. And now I have been spending time with functions and felicitations. However, I started training last week and I will be back for Denmark and French Open next month.”
As for her sudden spurt in endorsements after London, she says it’s a good deal.
She has nine brands going and her new management company is negotiating with three more corporates for her to endorse.
“Yeah it is a good deal, the management company I believe got three-four endorsement offers but I actually have to hear from them about the products I am going to endorse.
“Frankly, the offers started coming even before the Olympics through the Deccan Chronicle which was managing my affairs, but at that time I just wanted to concentrate on the London Games, so I refused them. I did not even know about the products I was to endorse as I refused them blindly without looking at them.”
Back to badminton, Saina had an excellent chance of adding another Super Series title had she not pulled out of the ongoing Japan Open as the Chinese players cried off saying the political situation in Japan was not conducive to playing in the tournament.
Saina was quick to say that she would have preferred to win a tournament with all the top Chinese playing than without them.
“I’d rather win a tournament with top Chinese players playing than without them. I have played against them in the past and beaten most of them,” said the World No.4.
Asked what’s going to be her next target, now that she has won an Olympic medal, she said: “I don’t fix targets. Yes, I wanted to win an Olympic medal and I now have one. Perhaps, I would like to change the hue of the medal next time around in Rio. But that is a long way off and I can’t say what will happen in the next four years.”
What about a World Championship medal, after all it’s a major prize?
“I am not really after it, but a top-three position there would be great. I want to go slow and take match-by-match,” added Saina, who these days is also promoting badminton in her own way.
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