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Australia’s Melissa Tapper secures 2016 Olympic and Paralympic berths

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Melissa Tapper. Image credit: Australian Paralympic Committee [CC BY-SA 3.0 (Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported – CC BY-SA 3.0) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported – CC BY-SA 3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Melissa Tapper became one of the first sportspeople to qualify in this cycle for both the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic berths, securing her Olympic berth t the 2016 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Oceania Championships at the Ulumbarra Theatre in Bendigo.  After losing in the semi-finals, she beat Fiji’s Grace Rosi Yee 11-2 and 11-3 to claim the third berth for Rio from her region.  Because fellow Australian Jian Fang Lay qualified in the same event having beat Tapper, Australia has two women in Rio.  This means that Tapper can compete in the single and team Olympic events.

Tapper in competition in 2012. By Gaël Marziou from Grenoble, France (IMG_3364dxo) [CC BY 2.0 (Creative Commons – Attribution 2.0 Generic – CC BY 2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

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This comes as no surprise if you follow Paralympic sport.  She will be Australia’s first competitor to compete at the Olympics and Paralympics in the same cycle.  Tapper has Erbs Palsy, and is a Class 10 player.  She’s got the least level of physical disability of Paralympic table tennis players, and she originally started in the sport on the able-bodied side where she was regularly winning in local and national competitions.  She was also internationally ranked, and had competed in several international competitions.

Tapper only came over to the Paralympic side after having been recruited by the Australian Paralympic Committee because they thought she could be a real medal contender at the London Games.  The Paralympic side of the sport has a lot more diversity in who elite competitors are, and Europeans are a lot more dominant compared to the Olympic side.  There was space for her to win and bring home the medals.    While having the goal of competing at the Olympics, she started participating in para-table tennis.  She did really well, winning a bronze medal after losing to Poland’s Natalia Partyka in the semi-finals. Partyka has been a dual Olympic and Paralympic competitor at the 2008 and 2012 Games.

In 2014, Tapper was selected to the Australian team for the Commonwealth Games, where she again came away with a bronze medal in what was nominally an able-bodied event.   That same year, she won a bronze in the Women’s Singles SF10 at the World Championships in Beijing.

The 26-year-old is currently ranked fourth in the world in ITFF’s women’s Class 10 rankings.  She is behind Brazil’s Bruna Costa Alexandre who is third, Partyka who is second, and China’s Qian Yang who is first.

Laura Hale
About Laura Hale (2527 Articles)
Laura Hale is a sport journalist, specializing in Paralympic and disability sport news. Prior to helping found ParaSport-News, she spent two and a half years working as a journalist on Wikinews, a citizen journalism site. As a journalist, she has covered the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, and a number of other sporting events. She has additional experience with Paralympic sport having worked as a Wikipedian in Residence for the Australian and Spanish Paralympic Committees.

1 Comment on Australia’s Melissa Tapper secures 2016 Olympic and Paralympic berths

  1. rafael pinchas // March 25, 2016 at 1:07 pm // Reply

    Dear Ms. Hale,

    As you may know that recently I have published a new book on the subject of the Deaflympic Games.

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    The book is a first ever such book in 92 years!

    For additional information, please use this website link

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    Will it be possible for your Sports Information Department to buy the book?

    Please advise.

    Sincerely Yours,

    Rafael Pinchas
    Author

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