AP

India badminton star is world’s top paid female athlete outside tennis

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Pusarla Venkata Sindhu of India— known as PV — turned a silver medal two years ago in badminton at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics into millions of dollars in endorsements.

She’s the favorite to win gold at the Asian Games, though even that result may not yield the same windfall.

The magazine Forbes lists her as the seventh highest-earning female athlete in the world with an income of about $8.5 million — more than 90 percent from endorsements. And almost all from her success in Brazil.

She’s second at home in sports earnings only to India cricket captain Virat Kohli.

Tennis star Serena Williams headed the Forbes list of top earners in women’s sports, but Sindhu is ranked higher than the No. 1-ranked player on the WTA Tour, Simona Halep of Romania.

“To be in the list is a great feeling because everybody compares you with other players — the big shots,” she said Saturday after beating Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia 21-12, 21-15 to reach the quarterfinals.

“Many are coming to me saying now you are a millionaire,” she said, breaking into a nervous laugh. She joked that she now ranks with “the legends.”

India has a dearth of female sports stars, so Sindhu’s success has triggered lots of interest from sponsors.

Another factor driving her marketability is India’s previous lack of success in the Olympics.

India has won only one Olympic gold medal in an individual sport. That was with shooter Abhinav Bindra in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The other eight gold medals all came in field hockey, a team event.

India won only two medals in Rio — Sindhu’s silver and Sakshi Malik’s bronze in women’s freestyle wrestling.

Saina Nehwal, a former No. 1-ranked badminton player, cheered Sindhu’s ascent.

“I’m happy with what I’m earning, and she is happy with what she’s earning,” Nehwal said.

Sindhu knows she’s growing the game at home.

“Badminton as a sport has been increasing a lot,” Sindhu said. “Everybody wants to play badminton right now in India.”

There are a million reasons.

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Badminton fastest smash record broken (video)

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Denmark’s Mads Pieler Kolding broke the record for fastest badminton smash in a competition in India on Monday, according to Danish media.

Kolding, who has not competed in the Olympics, recorded 264 miles per hour, according to a broadcast and Danish media.

That would break the Guinness World Record of 253 mph set by three-time Olympic silver medalist Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in 2015.

However, the fastest smash outside of competition is reportedly 306 mph, reportedly recorded here.

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Spain’s Marin becomes first women’s singles gold winner from outside Asia

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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Spain’s Carolina Marin is the first gold medal winner in badminton women’s singles to come from outside Asia.

Marin, 23, defeated India’s Sindhu Pusarla 2-1 on Friday to achieve the feat, with Pusarla also scooping the first silver medal for India.

Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara took bronze.

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Pusarla took the first set 21-19, but Marin rallied with 21-12 and 21-15 victories to give the world’s No. 1 ranked player gold.

China has won the last four golds and the last two silvers. Mia Audina of the Netherlands was the lone European woman to medal heading into the tournament.