Four young sports stars talk about four other sports people they look to for inspiration…
SAINA NEHWAL, badminton
Roger Federer (top): Since I was 10 years old I have been watching this great champion. I am a big fan of not only the way he plays but also the manner in which he conducts himself both on and off the court. He's a wonderful model for youngsters. The way he handles the media and so humble even when he speaks of himself and his achievements is something which not many do. And he looks nice too!
Sachin Tendulkar: He's the God of cricket. He's achieved almost everything in cricket. He inspires me to dream big and achieve similar things in badminton too. I always try to get motivated every time Sachin achieves something special. His humility stands out despite his unbelievable achievements. And he's a delight to talk to.
Maria Sharapova: What a fantastic athlete she is! I am a big fan of her dressing style. What impressive looks she has even when playing. I am also a big fan of the way she plays with such anger at times. A very determined champion, who never gives an impression of giving up easily.
Pullela Gopichand: I used to watch Gopi Sir play. It was he who gave me the belief that we Indians can beat the Chinese if only we put in the hard work and show the dedication. He's a great inspiration for any young talent given the way he fought back from adversity after a serious knee injury forced him to be bed-ridden for six months. I still believe his 2001 All England Championship triumph coming back from his injury as one of the defining moments of Indian sport for it had clearly redefined the levels of excellence one can dream of and realise too. A great fighter and a wonderful person!
YUKI BHAMBRI, tennis
Sachin Tendulkar: I love cricket. I had a lot of fun watching Sachin Tendulkar score his 100th international century, postponing my training, as he moved from the 70s to the 80s. Without doubt, he is the greatest sports person in my assessment, as he continues to play so well despite all the pressure.
Wayne Rooney (top): I have been watching English Premier League, and follow Manchester United. Wayne Rooney is one of the finest strikers in the world.
Rafael Nadal: I like him, for he is a different human being. He has taken tennis to a new physical level. He plays with so much passion.
Pete Sampras: I like Pete Sampras for being such a strong champion and yet so calm. I like his serve especially. Had he'd been playing even today his serve would be the best.
HEENA SIDHU, shooting
Sachin Tendulkar and Roger Federer: Both have been such strong players in a physical sport since a young age, and have been marching on successfully for years now. They have both kept improving with age and have proved their mettle over and over again, by staying right on top of the world.
Lance Armstrong: I admire cyclist Lance Armstrong for fighting cancer and being the source of inspiration for the whole world. His courage in winning countless Tour de France races before and after the cancer treatment is legendary.
Yelena Isinbayeva (right): This Russian pole vaulter has been a rare phenomenon, winning two Olympics and the World Championships five times. She has been terrific in leaping stronger and higher to break the world record more than two dozen times.
SANDEEP SINGH, hockey
Sushil Kumar: He's a good friend of mine. He's aggressive when he's wrestling, but outside the arena he's a nice, polite person. If neither of us is injured before then — touch wood — we'll meet at the Olympics too.
Saina Nehwal: She's been at the top in badminton for a long time. A lot of other Indian sportswomen have done well internationally but not as consistently as she has. I met her at the Commonwealth Games. She's very humble.
Sachin Tendulkar: Obviously, because he's a great player. And also because he's a nice person, never part of any controversy. I met him at a Sahara function in 2008. He told me that he followed hockey and knew of me. It was a great feeling.
Sunil Chhetri (top): He carries the Indian football team. After Bhaichung Bhutia, he's India's best player. He's earned a name for himself in quite a short time.
As told to: KAMESH SRINIVASAN, V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM, SHREEDUTTA CHIDANANDA