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Norman still Australia's top sports earner

Winners aren't the only grinners in Australian sport this year judging by a list of the top 50 earners.

Certainly on-field success was no prerequisite for this year's Business Review Weekly leading earners with semi-retired golfer Greg Norman topping the list again after just holding off broken down basketballer Luc Longley.

Norman kept his No.1 ranking with estimated 2001 gross earnings of $48,255,000 ahead of Longley ($44,500,000) who ended his NBA career in the US this year due to an ankle injury.

Norman led the top 50 list last year by more than $35 million thanks to his myriad sponsorship, endorsement and business dealings.

Just five per cent of his earnings come from golf.

But former Boomers centre Longley reeled in the deficit this year after $31.5 million of his NBA contract with New York was paid out following the three-time Olympian's injury-enforced retirement in September.

The pain of Australia missing the 2002 World Cup soccer finals last month was eased somewhat for stars Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka with both easily keeping their top 10 spots.

Kewell was third with a tidy sum of $20,000,000 while Viduka - his Socceroo and Leeds team-mate in the English Premier League - was sixth with $7,000,000.

According to the BRW list, Kewell's annual earnings made up almost half of the $42 million combined income of the ill-fated 2001 Socceroos World Cup qualifying team in Uruguay.

Discarded Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Bosnich - who is struggling to find a premier league berth with Chelsea - was ranked ninth with $5,000,000.

The top five was completed by Lleyton Hewitt and Patrick Rafter who were part of Australia's failed Davis Cup tennis final campaign against France this month.

It was a sour end to an otherwise glittering year for fourth-ranked Hewitt who took out the US Open on the way to securing the world No.1 ranking - and $16,530,000.

Fifth placed Rafter - who lost his second Wimbledon final this year - began a hiatus from tennis after the Davis Cup decider armed with $8,865,000 earned solely this year.

Maintaining seventh spot was Graeme Lloyd ($5,980,000) who pitches for major league baseball outfit the Montreal Expos.

Robert Allenby's success on the United States' PGA tour this year stitched up eighth spot with $5,390,000 while fellow golfer Karrie Webb was the only woman in the top bracket, ranked 10th with $4,770,000.

There were only three other women in the top 50 - golfer Rachel Teske (29th, $1.6 million), tennis doubles specialist Rennae Stubbs (45th, $1.32 million) and 400m gold medallist Cathy Freeman (48th, $1.2 million).

High profile sports such as rugby league, cricket and AFL didn't fare so well.

Despite leading the world's best cricket team, Australian captain Steve Waugh was ranked equal 23rd with $1.8 million ahead of team-mates Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath (equal 31st, $1.5 million) and speedster Brett Lee (46th, $1.3 million).

In AFL, Kangaroos' Wayne Carey was equal 31st with Warne and McGrath while Essendon captain James Hird was 48th with $1.2 million.

There were no rugby league players in the top 50.

Last year's third highest earning sportsman Dave Nilsson wasn't ranked this year after he failed to play major league baseball for Boston due to injury.

The BRW top 50 sports earners is based on estimated gross earnings including prizemoney, endorsements, sponsorships, appearance fees and other income from sport-related business.

Top 10 2001 sports earners according to Business Review Weekly

(last year's ranking in brackets, all in Australian dollars):

1. (1) Greg Norman (golf) $48,255,000
2. (2) Luc Longley (basketball) $44,500,000
3. (4) Harry Kewell (soccer) $20,000,000
4. (11) Lleyton Hewitt (tennis) $16,530,000
5. (5) Patrick Rafter (tennis) $8,865,000
6. (6) Mark Viduka (soccer) $7,000,000
7. (7) Graeme Lloyd (baseball) $5,980,000
8. (10) Robert Allenby (golf) $5,390,000
9. (9) Mark Bosnich (soccer) $5,000,000
10.(8) Karrie Webb (golf) $4,770,000

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