Melissa Tapper made history in Rio becoming the first Australian to have competed at both the Paralympic and Olympic Games. Tapper represented Australia at the London 2012 Paralympics and then competed at both the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic competitions.
Born with brachial plexus, Tapper began playing table tennis when she was eight, 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.
She lined up in the singles and doubles events going down to Brazil’s Caroline Kumahara 4-2 before lining up alongside Jian Fang Lay and Sally Zhang as the Australian women’s team went down 3-0 to North Korea. She returned to Rio for the Paralympics where, after winning her first match, went down in her next two to be knocked out in the preliminary round.