January 4 - World number one and Malaysia's most successful Olympian of all time Lee Chong Wei has topped the overall prize money table in badminton for 2013, according to online magazine Badzine's top 50 earners list.
Lee tops the list in the men's category following seven Super Series titles throughout the year, as well as a fourth victory in the Super Series Final.
The two-time Olympic silver medallist was the runaway winner claiming a total of $292,540 (£178,150/€215,135), and that's not counting his appearance fees and money won at several professional leagues, his allowance from the Badminton Association of Malaysia and endorsements as brand ambassador.
Chinese star Zhao Yunlei came in second overall and first in the women's category thanks to her incredible run in both mixed and women's doubles events this year which saw her pick up a total of seven Super Series titles.
The double Olympic champion, who became the first badminton player in history to win two gold medals in a single Olympics when she won both the women's and mixed doubles at London 2012, earned a total of $167,195 (£101,817/€122,955) throughout the 2013 season putting her ahead of fellow compatriots Li Xuerui and Zhang Nan.
Li, who is currently the women's world number one, and Zhang, who sits atop the mixed doubles rankings alongside Zhao, are part of a five-strong Chinese contingent that make up the top 10 highest earners list, with nine of the 10 players originating from Asia.
Denmark's Christinna Pedersen, who won both the women's and mixed doubles Super Series Finals titles, is the only European player in the top 20 with her double win in the Super Series Finals in Kuala Lumpur culminating in $42,000 (£25,500/€30,900) of her total $127,596 (£77,702/€93,834).
Pederson's mixed doubles partner Joachim Fischer Nielsen is just the second European at rank 21, while the first singles European player, Denmark's Jan Ø Jørgensen, comes in at number 31.
Despite increasing prize funds for players, the top 50 list shows that badminton is still a low income sport compared to many others.
Lee's 2013 prize money total of just under $300,000 (£180,000/€220,000) is a fraction of that won by Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, who won $12.4 million (£7.55 million/€9.12 million) in prize money for the 2013-2014 season.
In 2012, golf's Tiger Woods claimed around $6 million (£3.65 million/€4.41 million) in prize money from the PGA Tour, as well as about $7 million (£4.26 million/€5.15 million) in winnings from other tournaments.
Although not earning nearly as much as these high income sportsman, Lee admits that his heroics in this season's events have earned him his biggest pay day in a single season.
"Indeed, it has been a great year for me - on and off the court," he told The Star.
"I was able to play consistently well at the highest level despite my age and I became a father.
"It was my best season, winning win seven titles in the Super Series...a feat that may be quite difficult for me to repeat this year.
"Ten years ago, badminton paid peanuts.
"Now, we are better off than some other sports although we are quite far behind tennis and golf.
"I hope our sport will continue to grow.
"There is reward when one puts his heart and soul in it.
"I hope that my biggest monetary incentive will serve as a motivation for all in the Malaysian badminton team to outdo themselves in the New Year."
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