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Rediff.com  » Sports » After No 2 ranking, brand Saina soars

After No 2 ranking, brand Saina soars

Last updated on: July 16, 2010 17:50 IST

After No 2 ranking, brand Saina soars

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Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad

A day after taking the world No 2 ranking, Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal scaled another peak.

She signed her first brand endorsement deal with American direct selling company Herbalife, which is famous for its nutrition products for sportspersons.

Though the worth of the deal was not revealed, as Saina and the company maintained that the amount is confidential, it is likely to be in the range of Rs 30 to 50 lakh, the biggest signed by the Hyderabadi lass.


Image: Saina Nehwal
Photographs: SnapsIndia
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Many more companies have lined up for deals

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It also reflects the growing value of brand Saina after three major titles in recent weeks and the unprecedented high in the world rankings.

Saina confirmed that many more companies have lined up for endorsement associations with her but did not reveal details, saying that matter has been left to her father, Dr Harvir Singh, and her management company, Deccan Chargers Sporting Ventures in Hyderabad.

Sources, however, revealed that 12 big companies, including a few multinationals are negotiating with the management company to sign up Saina as their brand ambassador.

The earnings of 20-year-old ever-smiling star could reach the bracket of a few crores soon, making her the highest gross earner among Indian badminton players.


Image: Saina Nehwal

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'You will see me in many more roles'

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Till now, Saina was associated with only two or three brands, including Yonex and Deccan Chronicle newspaper and its IPL cricket team, Deccan Chargers.

"You will see me in many more roles. I would like to endorse some more products in future," she said on Friday.

For the moment, though, she expressed happiness to be with Herbalife.

"I am happy to be the face of Herbalife for this year," she said, adding she uses its products, especially the nutritional and energy drinks.

Asked what kind of products she will be endorsing, Saina replied: "First of all, they should suit my personality as a sportsperson. I should use the product and product should suit me.

"I am a player first. I think Herbalife is very good for sports people. Not only me, but, worldwide, many top athletes are using this product. It is a very good chance for me to endorse such a big product. I should be happy about the product and it should suit me properly. So, that way, I chose it."


Image: Saina Nehwal

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Saina kept the option of endorsing soft drinks open

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Saina kept the option of endorsing soft drinks open, unlike her coach, former All England champion Pullela Gopichand, who while at the peak of his game refused to endorse cola brands.

Asked whether she will follow in his footsteps, she replied, "Today's generation likes to eat and drink every thing and I am also one of them. Let us see what happens in future. But Gopi sir had made a really good decision at the time because he believed 'if I do something those who are inspired by me will also start drinking it'.

"But I take it in a different way. I don't really see that if I drink it then others will also drink it. I will think about it. I really respect Gopi sir that he took such a big decision. In future I also will try to do something like that."


Image: Saina Nehwal

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Success means added responsibilities

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Saina said success has added to her responsibilities.

"I see changes in my sport and also in the way my sponsorships are happening. I am really happy with the progress. But I don't want to forget that it is all because of my game. At the same time, I am really happy to be associated with such big brands now."

Asked to comment on the Rs 210 crore deal of Mahinder Singh Dhoni, Saina wished India's cricket team captain the best.

"He is a cricketer. I think we should not compare it [cricket with badminton]. Cricket is always a first sport for India. I am really happy for him and I am happy with whatsoever I am getting. I just want to do well for my country in the game and am happy with that."


Image: Saina Nehwal

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'Sponsorships will not affect my focus'

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She reiterated that the increase in number of sponsorships will not affect her game or focus.

"I got to know how to manage it. It is not going to be a problem. When you do well a lot of things come up and I have to find some ways out of it; we will have to work on it."

To a question about her potential brand value, she replied: "I don't know anything. I just have to focus only on my game. These things hardly bother me; my work is only to play and do well."

Vijay Khanna, Herbalife country head, said Saina was signed up for endorsement last year itself as she is a youth icon with a lot of appeal among youngsters.

"We have renewed the deal for this year and would like to continue to strengthen our relationship.

"Saina is loved by our distributors. Saina will be supporting our distributors who are our lifeline. The whole deal is to motivate our distributors," he said.

United States-based Herbalife, which sells weight management, nutrition and personal care products has a presence in 73 countries, with 2.1 million distributors. It recorded a sale of 3.7 billion dollars last year.


Image: Saina Nehwal

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