Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and other top shuttlers finally get dues from BAI | other sports | Hindustan Times
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Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and other top shuttlers finally get dues from BAI

India’s top badminton players, including PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, finally got prize money and cash incentives for winning tournaments that the national body had not disbursed since 2014.

other sports Updated: May 09, 2017 13:12 IST
Sandip Sikdar
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) gave the pending prize money to the top players of the country including Saina Nehwal on Friday.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) gave the pending prize money to the top players of the country including Saina Nehwal on Friday.(BAI)

A long wait for India’s badminton stars, including flag-bearers PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, ended on Friday after the Badminton Association of India (BAI) handed over prize money and cash incentives due to them from winning international events.

The BAI had been holding on to money, which in some cases goes as far back as the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Newly elected BAI president, Himanta Biswa Sarma, held a meeting with most of the top Indian players and enquired about their problems and sought their suggestions on issues.

Sarma, who took over after the sudden death of predecessor Akhilesh Das Gupta in April, said on Friday he only got to know about the prize money issue when 2014 Commonwealth Games men’s champion Parupalli Kashyap gave him a call.

READ | PV Sindhu bows out of Asian Championships, losing to He Bingjiao in quarters

“Kashyap brought it to my notice that he had not received his cash award for winning the 2014 CWG gold when the 2018 edition is almost upon us. That moment I decided this must be done as these players are the flag-bearers of our country,” said Sarma.

Usually, international tournament organisers don’t directly hand over the money won by players but send it to the BAI, which deducts tax and completes logistical formalities before forwarding it to the player. But it had not happened in the last three years.

A total of Rs 1.07 crore was disbursed on Friday, which included the Rs.30 lakh due to Kashyap for winning the CWG gold and the 2015 India Grand Prix Gold title.

READ | Saina Nehwal crashes out, PV Sindhu advances in Badminton Asia Championships

Saina and Sindhu got Rs.25 lakh and Rs.20 lakh respectively. Saina’s amount included the winner’s purse for the 2016 Australian Open, the federation’s incentive for being ranked world No.1 and for becoming the first Indian woman to reach the All-England Open final.

“I am glad the conclave happened and we got to discuss our issues with the new president. This has never happened before,” said Saina.

Sindhu’s dues were from winning the 2016 Malaysia Masters and Macau Open, and for her CWG bronze. “We gave him our suggestions after he asked us about the problems we faced,” said the world No.4.

Doubles specialists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa got Rs.10 lakh each for winning the 2014 CWG silver while Kidambi Srikanth and RMV Gurusaidutt got Rs.6 lakh and Rs.5 lakh respectively.

READ | BAI to encourage grassroots academies: New president Himanta Biswa Sarma

Asked why the issue was not raised earlier, one top player told HT on condition of anonymity that they had pointed it out several times but they “have to measure and take steps because getting involved in administrative hassles is problematic”.

The Tokyo 2020 challenge

Chief national coach Pullela Gopichand said since India has raised the bar by winning two medals at the last two Olympics, finishing on the podium at the 2020 Tokyo Games will be a big task.

“We won a bronze in 2012 and silver in 2016, so the next aim is obviously gold, but international badminton is very tough and challenging,” said Gopichand.