Melissa Tapper

Only the strong survive

Personal Details

Nickname:

Milly

Home town:

Hamilton

Hobbies:

Shopping, hanging out with friends, walking my dog

Occupation / Area of Study / Work:

Degree in conveyancing. Speaker

Hero / Most Admired Athlete:

Her parents

Date of birth:

1 March 1990

Sporting Details

Event(s) / Discipline:

Singles and Team

Home Club:

LOOPS

Coach:

Mark Smythe

Classification:

TT6-10

Disability:

Physical Impairment – Brachial plexus palsy

Olympic / Paralympic History:

OLYMPICS

2020 Tokyo Olympic Games

2016 Rio Olympic Games 

PARALYMPICS

2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games

2016 Rio Paralympic Games  

Commonwealth Games History:

Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - Gold medalist TT6-10 Women's singles

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games - Bronze in Women's team

Sporting Highlights:

Melissa (Milly) Tapper is the first Australian athlete to represent the country at both the Paralympics and the Olympics. Melissa has a physical condition that came about from birth complications, she weighed 11 pound, 2 ounces and got stuck during natural birth.

The doctor had to pull her out by her right arm, tearing the nerves between the neck and shoulder, resulting in the condition Brachial plexus palsy. 

Melissa grew up in a small town called Hamilton in the southwest of Victoria, 300km away from Melbourne.

She played multiple sports such as netball, basketball and athletics, it was at 8 years old that she first played table tennis.

Tapper was terrible at the sport initially, so much so that her brother and sister wouldn’t let her play when they went to their holiday house that had a table tennis table. However, she still found table tennis extremely fun and started playing the game at school for lunchtime sport.

Her talent began to build and her PE teacher encouraged her to play more. Soon enough Melissa was so good that her school would actually set up table tennis games at lunch, where anyone could come and try their fate against her. 

Melissa loves how table tennis combines a bit of everything, there is a need for speed, power and poise.

Growing up she barely knew that the Paralympics existed, let alone that it was an option for her, she’d always played against able-bodied athletes.

Once she learnt there was a place for her in the Paralympics she jumped on the opportunity. Tapper has a passion to build the reputation of table tennis and its many opportunities, this development she wants to see displayed from the grassroots.  

Tapper made her first able-bodied junior Australian team at 14 and was the nation’s top-ranked junior athlete at 18.

She played her first Paralympic competition in 2009 and went on to finish fourth after going down in five sets in the class ten singles bronze medal match at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Tapper went on to win Commonwealth Games bronze in 2014 in the team event before qualifying for Rio 2016. Tapper represented Australia in both the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic competitions.

At the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Tapper became the first Australian to win table tennis gold at a Commonwealth Games, and to add to the splendour of it all, she did it in front of a home crowd.

- Australian Olympic Team 

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