Women’s singles world #1 Tai Tzu Ying won more prize money than any other badminton player in 2016. The Chinese Taipei shuttler came in ahead of Chinese teen doubles sensation Chen Qingchen, while Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, who topped the list in 2013 and 2011, was a distant third this year.
By Don Hearn. Photos: Badmintonphoto
Badzine reveals today the list of the top 50 badminton earners based on prize money awarded during the 2016 season for all Badminton World Federation (BWF) ranking tournaments. For the first time since we began keeping track, the world’s top women’s singles player was also the one raking in the most cash. World #1 Tai Tzu Ying (pictured above) earned more than half of her year’s total by winning titles at the two richest tournaments on the BWF calendar: the Indonesia Open and the Superseries Finals.
Once again, the top ten is split between singles and doubles players. The ‘richest’ pair was women’s doubles world #1 Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi. In addition to winning gold in Rio, the Japanese duo also pocketed more than US$300,000 in prize money. While that sum had to be split in two, 19-year-old Chinese prodigy Chen Qingchen (pictured right) became the most handsomely compensated doubles player, taking $245,486 to the bank by being successful in both women’s and mixed doubles. Chen won the doubles double three times in 2016, including this month in Dubai, where she achieved the highest possible payday in world badminton, winning US$84,000 (for more details, see related article here)
Counting green, not gold
Last year’s highest-paid player, Chen Long, was way down to #40 on the 2016 list after finishing the year with no titles other than his gold in Rio but he was not the only Rio medallist who did not manage to maximize his prize winnings. His fellow Olympic singles champion Carolina Marin was one of two shuttlers ranked #2 in the world who did not even make the top 50 in monetary terms. The other was Kamilla Rytter Juhl, who came in just ahead of Marin at #54 on our list even though her doubles partner Christinna Pedersen (pictured below) was the second highest-paid European thanks to her success in mixed doubles as well.
In fact, no fewer than 38 of the 78 players currently ranked in the world’s top ten earned under $60,000 in prize money for the year. The top ten player with the least remuneration for her efforts was Thailand’s Savitree Amitrapai, who came in at #163 on our list.
On the other hand, the lowest world ranking among players in our top 50 list belongs to Qiao Bin of China. The world #24 received more than three quarters of his 2016 prize money on the podium of the Korea Open in October.
Spreading the wealth
Many of this year’s top players – including 2014’s richest player Zhao Yunlei – retired after the Rio Olympics, when less than half of the Superseries cheques had been awarded. Four of those retirees – Lee Yong Dae, Wang Yihan, Yu Yang, and Tang Yuanting – still sneaked into the top 50 but the fact that they and other veterans departed, taking their share of the pre-August winnings, may help to explain the lower concentration at the top compared to 2015. The number of players winning more than US$200,000 went from 3 down to 2 and the number above $100,000 decreased to 16 from 23 last year.
The 50 players on this list account for nearly US$5 million of the slightly more than $10.5 million given out in total prize money in badminton tournaments from the Superseries all the way down to the dozens of International Series-level events. The top shuttlers now gearing up for next season can look forward to a 2017 Superseries that will offer over 4% more in overall prize money and that for the first time will include two million-dollar tournaments in one calendar year, as the Indonesia Open Superseries Premier joins the season-ending World Superseries Finals at that echelon.
This is the fifth time that Badzine has compiled a list of the top prize winners. All calculations have been done using the data from the official BWF World Rankings, published on the tournamentsoftware.com website. All BWF events have been included in this calculation, including Superseries events, Grand Prix and Grand Prix Gold events, the Badminton Asia Championships, and International Challenges, where applicable. Any extra income from private sponsorships, endorsements, invitational tournaments, and professional leagues – such as those in India, Malaysia, and China – have been excluded from this list. For doubles pairs, it is assumed that the partners split prize money equally.
Badzine is an online sports news magazine devoted to bringing the latest in the world of competitive badminton to readers around the globe. Badzine provided on-site coverage of 17 major international tournaments in 2016, in 12 countries.
Data Programming: Kira Rin / Badzine
Data Compilation: Badzine Staff