Olympic medallist PV Sindhu makes more money than most top Bollywood stars
Living proof that sports — beyond cricket — can be a career
Badminton player PV Sindhu has given us one more reason to be proud of her. She’s the only Indian to have made it to the Forbes list of highest-earning women sports players in the world. Sindhu ranks seventh in the list, which is topped by tennis champ Serena Williams (for the third time in a row).
Sindhu’s annual income between June 2017 and June 2018 was a cool $8.5 million (Rs 59.4 crore). This, despite the fact that badminton only enjoys a semi-professional status in most parts of the world. Her income includes prize winnings and endorsement deals alike. Currently, Sindhu is the brand ambassador for the Central Reserve Police Force and Vizag Steel. After her return from the Rio Games, Sindhu received Rs 13 crore as cash awards from various state governments and government institutions. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, she became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal.
Sindhu’s remarkably high earning also paves a way for other sports enthusiasts who are fighting a battle with their family about how sports can be a sustainable career. In our country, unfortunately, only a small number of parents encourage their children to pursue sport professionally, and cut the number smaller if the sport isn’t cricket and it’s the girl-child in question.
Sindhu’s success, as with most sportspeople, is hard-earned. It’s sheer dedication and grit, along with talent and a passion to nurture it to the fullest. The 23-year-old from Hyderabad has been playing badminton since she was eight. She hails from a sporting family – her parents were national level volleyball players – who supported her ambitions. Her passion was evident early on – while in school, she would travel 56km from her residence to coaching camps, and also report bang on time. Today, she has been awarded with the Arjuna Award and Padma Shri Award (the highest civilian honour).
Indian female athletes who became sporting legends
The captain of the national women's cricket team has travelled unreserved in trains — as an India player. Tough to imagine that happening with a member of the men's team. The skipper has led the team to numerous victories and herself holds impressive records — earlier this year, she become the first batter from the country to score 2000 runs. She began playing the game in school when she was 10. When the time came to pursue it professionally, she faced a lot of opposition, including from her grandparents. But fortunately, she had the support of her parents who encouraged her to follow her dream.
Das had everyone from top politicians to Bollywood personalities congratulating her for her historic win as she became the first Indian to win a gold medal in a track event at the World Junior Athletics Championships recently. But the journey from Kandhulimari village in Assam to creating history in Finland has not been easy. Born to a family of farmers, she grew up playing football in rice fields with the neighbourhood boys. A local coach advised her to take up running but her parents were initially reluctant as she would have to travel and live away from home for training. At one point, state level coaches spent out of their own pockets as there was barely any budget for Das's diet or training. She's now raring to go and bring home more medals.
The Indian women's hockey team captain has a journey is so inspiring, it needs a Bollywood biopic ASAP. Rampal's father was a cart-puller and the Haryana-based family struggled with poverty. So much so, that they couldn't even afford an alarm clock for Rampal to wake up on time for her practice, let alone a hockey stick and kit. Her parents as well as her community were opposed to the idea of her taking up the sport as it would require her to wear skirts or shorts. At 23 now, the determined athlete has scored 134 goals in 212 international appearances.
A five-time world champion and Olympic bronze-medalist, Mary Kom has rightly earned the nickname, 'Magnificent Mary'. "Every medal I have won is a story of a difficult struggle," she said last year. Born to in a low-income family of farmers in Kangathei village (rural Manipur), Mary Kom initially hid her boxing from her father. While he was supportive of athletics, he feared that a face injured in the boxing ring would hamper chances of a good marriage proposal. Even after he got around to the idea, he did not have enough money to provide her with the kind of diet a sportsperson needs. Today, she has set up a boxing academy in Imphal to further young talent from her home state.
Sinha was a member of the national volleyball team before she encountered a tragic accident. In 2011, while fending off a chain snatcher on board a train, she fell onto the tracks and was injured so badly, one of her legs had to be amputated below the knee. Not one to be bogged down, she channeled her passion into climbing Mount Everest, becoming the first female amputee to do so. Talk about never giving up.