The story of the Karnal-based Haryana archer Riddhi, who is going to participate in the Khelo India Youth Games for the fifth time, is different from others. Usually, the athlete first chooses the sport of their choice and then finds a coach to help them master it. In Riddhi's case though it is different. It was after Riddhi's father chose archery for his daughter, he first learned archery himself and then became his daughter's first guru and coach.
The result of this passion of Manoj Kumar Phor, who does ice cube business, is that his 18-year-old daughter is going to grace the Khelo India Youth Games for the fifth time. Riddhi got a place on the list of TOPS Development players two years ago. Riddhi believes that Khelo India Youth Games has improved with each passing year and has become an excellent platform for young sportspersons.
The Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), launched in 2014 under the aegis of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS), Government of India, has been a professional setup to provide holistic support to all athletes. The scheme provides personalized coaching support to the athletes from the best global coaches, International training sessions, visa facilitation support as well as top-of-line research support to track opponent performances. In 2020, the TOPS Development was launched as well to produce Olympic winners in 2028 targeting children as young as 10 - 12 years.
Riddhi participated in the first Khelo India School Games held in New Delhi in 2018, where she finished eighth. Then she finished fourth in Pune. In Guwahati, Riddhi won a bronze medal and then in Panchkula, she got a gold medal. The Khelo India Youth Games, being held for the first time in Madhya Pradesh, will be the last for Riddhi as she will not be able to participate after that.
Riddhi, who appeared in the TOPS list during the Olympic camp in 2021, said, "My father himself is an archery coach. He himself has learned archery before to teach me. He now gives coaching at the Academy in Karnal and in Kurukshetra. Where I come from, there is no archery academy or coach around, so I learned archery from Gurugram and then he taught me on a wooden bow. I used Wooden bows for four years before starting Recurve in 2016. My father believed that archery is an individual sport and it is less prone to injury than other sports."
Riddhi has also played for the senior national team of India. Last year, she played in the Junior Asia Cup held in Phuket in February, where she got two silver medals (mixed team and team). After that Riddhi played Senior National from Haryana in March 2022, where also she won a Gold, after this, she attended the trials for the Asian Games in Sonepat SAI and was also selected for the team but the Asian Games were postponed due to Corona.
Regarding her international exposure, Riddhi said, "A and B teams were made for the World Cup. I was in the A team and played in three World Cups. The first World Cup was held in Turkey, in which I won gold in the mixed team along with my inspiration Tarundeep Rai sir. The next World Cup was held in Korea in May, where I got the team bronze medal. Then in June, I had no medal at the Paris World Cup.
Riddhi, who practices for 7-8 hours a day at SAI Sonepat Centre, said that the Khelo India Youth Games is a platform to motivate the youth. Riddhi said, "All under-18 children come to Khelo India where they get to participate at international level venues to compete. If sports have to be taken forward then such events should keep happening and since I have been participating in Khelo India from the beginning I can confidently say that it has improved with each passing year. The journey from Delhi To Madhya Pradesh has been very positive for Khelo India Youth Games."
On being asked about her message to young players at the Khelo India Youth Games, Riddhi said, "All I would like to say to the young players is to give in their best and no need to get nervous when competing because archery is a sport where the heartbeat plays a very important role while shooting. If their heartbeat increases then there is a possibility of error and losing concentration. Khelo India is a great platform and it must be used to showcase your talent to the world." (ANI)