Like many legendary sporting stories, Ridhi Phor’s began soon after her birth, and under the guidance of her father, Manoj Phor. Manoj, who is a hobby weightlifter himself, was determined that his first-born child should make her career in a sport where the results weren’t decided by subjective scoring. He chose archery, and left his hometown of Karnal for Gurugram (a part of Delhi NCR) to learn the sport himself. When Ridhi turned eight, he took her under his wing and started her training.
Now, at the age of 16 – and with five international and 46 national-level medals under her belt – Ridhi is all set to make a splash on the international circuit with the support of the Reliance Foundation (RF). Here’s everything you need to know about Ridhi’s inspiring journey.
The making of an elite athleteRidhi, Manoj recalls, made an instant connection with archery. Whether it was at mini sub-junior level nationals or national school championships, Ridhi rarely ended a competition without success. What’s more, she would inevitably be among the youngest archers in her sport. This trend has continued as Ridhi progressed to the senior level and gained experience at competitions across the world. Her never-say-die attitude a constant, Ridhi, once determined, follows through to achieve successes. This, her father believes, is her biggest strength and a big support to her peers in the field too.
“During the Asia Cup, India was losing 5-1 vs Philippines,” Manoj recalls. “The match seemed like it was all but over. Ridhi encouraged her colleagues and got her seniors to actually believe in her. She ended up scoring the most points in the next four rounds, and India drew 5-5 and won the tie-breaker.” Manoj also notes that while her career is still young, Ridhi has a long way to go. “Ridhi is very passionate and takes losses to heart,” he says. “It takes her a while to get over losses in previous competitions. She tends to get upset very early.”
Getting into a winning strideDespite everything, Ridhi’s passion and skills for the sport have helped her get a place among the most elite athletes of India, which is a great feat at the age of 16. This formidable reputation has been years in the making. At the Asia Cup, Manila 2018 – her first international competition at the age of 14 years – Ridhi bagged bronze medals as a member of the women’s recurve and mixed recurve team. In the individual event, Ridhi finished seventh among 30 players, and was ranked higher than any other Indian archer, including Promila Daimary, who is an experienced archer and a regular in the national team. Ridhi continued her winning stride at the next Asia Cup event in Taipei, and at many other national and international events.
The fact that Ridhi has the makings of a world-level archer despite her young age, was amply clear through her many successes. However, making it on the world space, especially in a sport like archery, requires plenty of support. In 2019, the RF came on board to support Ridhi achieve her dream of becoming the top archer in the world. With RF helping her gain access to the best equipment and entry into the most important competitions, Ridhi has since made even greater strides in meeting her targets. She was the youngest archer in the top 200 of the World Rankings in 2019, went ahead to win a bronze in the team event at the Under-14 Asian World Ranking Tournament in China, and also bagged the silver and team gold at the Senior Nationals.
“The sponsorship provided by Reliance Foundation has played a pivotal role in my development as an athlete,” says Ridhi. “They have provided me with the best equipment an archer can wish for. I have been using the same equipment for my Olympic trials as well. I will always be grateful to them for showing faith in me as an athlete, and I hope they keep supporting aspiring athletes like me in the future”.
The support RF provides goes beyond monetary support for equipment and competition entries. Ridhi, through the RF, has access to the best nutritionists, sports science experts, psychologists, and many other resources at the disposal of the Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in Mumbai.
These resources have enabled Ridhi to pursue a chance to chase international glory. Although she hasn’t made the cut for the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, her determination to win a medal for India at future Olympics is undiminished. With her track record, and the support of her father and the RF, Ridhi’s arrow is bound to hit the Bull’s Eye.