Tapper becomes first Paralympian on able-bodied team

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Melissa

April 25, 2014 (ISN) – Table tennis player Melissa Tapper is set to become the first Paralympic athlete to secure a place on an Australian able-bodied team after she was selected for the nation’s Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games squad.

The 24-year-old, who narrowly missed out on a bronze medal at the London 2012 Games and missed the able-bodied London Olympic team by just one spot, claimed the berth on the national women’s team at the trials held on the Gold Coast.

“I always thought it was possible,” Tapper said.

“It’s been my dream ever since I started playing, I always wanted to make a Commonwealth or Olympic Games team.

“When I’m older, maybe I will look back and realise what I have done, but I’m just a kid playing ping pong and really enjoying it at the moment and looking to get the best out of myself.

“I’m really just like anyone else.”

Tapper was born with Erb’s Palsy which led to brachial plexus nerve damage in her right arm and, although she has some difficulty serving as well as frequent back and shoulder injuries, she said it has never stopped her from doing what she wanted to do – playing table tennis.

“Being a one-hand dominant sport, it took my fancy pretty quickly, and I was all right at it,” she explained.

Tapper will head to the Scottish city for the Commonwealth Games, which take place from July 23 to August 3, alongside women’s team-mates Vivian Dederko, Jian Fang Lay, Sally Zhang and Miao Miao.

Australia has won eight medals in table tennis since the sport was introduced onto the Commonwealth Games programme in Manchester in 2002.

The country will be hoping to move that tally into double figures at Glasgow 2014, as well as securing the elusive gold medal.

(Photo: Getty_Images)

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