Abhinav Bindra: Gripped by FIFA fever

By Hindustan Times

New Delhi, June 12 -- The FIFA World Cup kicked off yesterday, and the euphoria is enormous. World Cup defines the pinnacle of success for football.

Intense training has gone into preparing for the event, hours, days, months and years of literally preparing for the goal. It's always a huge challenge to be at the very best of your game in an event which happens once in four years. There is no scope for error. One slip up and those dreams come tumbling down. The ultimate challenge for a sportsperson to be as ready as he/she can be and PERFORM.

And ironically, that's the ultimate and only tangible proof of being PREPARED. Those endless hours of discipline and struggle only become evident in one's style and form at a competition. I don't really have a favourite team, but I'm kind of rooting for Germany, my second home as I am in and out of the country for my own training. I'm disappointed to see that Michael Ballack is injured. I bumped into him a few months ago at the Chelsea Football Club training centre and came away very impressed with the man.

Millions of fans, from the casual to the obsessive, are expected to be a part of the the excitement and competition that draws and inspires the players. I was in South Africa a year back and could already sense this energy. What impressed me most was that the stadia were almost ready then. It was obvious that the locals understood the unparalleled opportunity the World Cup offers South Africa to showcase its culture and progress.

They have left no stone unturned to ensure that the event takes place smoothly and the fans are welcomed with open arms and made to feel at home. The success of any event of this scale depends on players and audiences alike... And this summer, all routes lead to South Africa.

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