Karnal girl wins gold in recurve archery

Jun 12, 2022

Back in 2012, Manoj Kumar, who runs an ice cube business in Karnal, shifted to Gurgaon for a period of three months to learn archery from coach Bhagwat at the Haryana Sports department complex. Kumar wanted to learn the basics of archery for putting his daughter Ridhi Phor into the sport. He returned home three months later and started practice sessions for his daughter at a nearby plot in Karnal.

On Sunday, as 18-year-old Ridhi scored a 6-4 win over another Haryana archer Tamanna to win the gold in girls’ recurve event in Khelo India Youth Games at Punjab University grounds, Kumar’s joy knew no bounds and he immediately called his coach Bhagwat to tell about his daughter’s feat.

“I always wanted to be a sportsperson but could not become one due to various reasons. In 2012, I shifted to Gurgaon for three months to learn archery and use that knowledge and skill to coach my daughter. I would read books on archery training. I got wooden bows from Manipur. Incidentally, my coach was 12 years younger to me and as Ridhi won today, I told him to have a match with Ridhi (laughs). Seeing her winning the gold feels like winning a medal myself,” says Kumar while speaking to the Indian Express.

The Haryana youngster had won seven medals in the wooden bow nationals before shifting to the recurve event, an Olympic event.

In the junior national archery championship in 2018 held in Bhopal, she had won the title before competing in her first senior international competition in Asia Cup Stage 2 in Manila, where she won a bronze medal each in mixed team and women’s recurve team.

The same year, Ridhi, who also trained under coach Jeewanjot Singh Teja, was part of the silver medal winning mixed team and bronze medal winning women’s recurve team events in Asia Cup in Manila.

This year, she paired up with three-time Olympian Tarundeep Rai to win the gold medal in the mixed recurve event in the Archery World Cup Stage 1 held in Turkey before winning the women’s team event along with Komalika Bari and Ankita Bhagat in the Archery World Cup Stage 2 in South Korea.

“When I shifted from wooden bow to recurve event, I did not take much time to adjust. Winning the medals at the junior nationals motivated me to perform better in senior category. To be part of the medal winning teams in Asia Cup early in my senior career helped me as an archer. Since 2019, I have been training under Tarundeep bhaiya and to win a mixed team medal pairing with him in the World Cup Stage 1 was a big moment for me. I will be participating in the Archery World Cup Stage 3 in France later this month and I hope to win a medal there,” said Ridhi.

Three-time Olympian Tarundeep Rai has been working with Ridhi as a mentor. “I have been Ridhi’s mentor and training her as a player as well. She has confidence in her own abilities and is a strong archer. Reworking on her basics, I showed her how to handle crucial situations. She was consistently excellent throughout the championships. I remember Ridhi keeping a cool head and steady nerve at the World Cup Stage 1 in Turkey where we won the mixed team gold,” said Rai. But it wasn’t a cakewalk for Ridhi in the final.

Tamanna of Karnal gave a tough fight to Ridhi as she was once leading 4-2 in the final before Ridhi made a comeback and won the match.

Tamanna’s father Rajesh owns a three-acre farm near Rohtak and she had won the silver medal in the last edition of Khelo India Youth Games in Guwahati too. “It was a tough final. As teammates in Haryana team, Ridhi and I share a close bond and both of us wanted to give our best in the final. This final taught me how to improve my shooting at crucial moments,” said Tamanna.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan’s Kapish Singh, whose father works in the fire department at Jaipur airport, romped home with the boys’ recurve title with an easy win over Ajay Nagarwal in the final.

“To win my first individual title at the national level is a special feeling for me and my family, and hopefully I can carry on with my good form in future,” said Singh.

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