Quick Facts

How acquired
Physical Impairment – Erbs palsy – nerve damage in right arm
Table Tennis
Date of Birth
March 1, 1990
South Melbourne, VIC
Started Competing
First Competed for Australia
Games Experience

London 2012


Her father Charles

Career Highlights

Winning the 2011 Hungarian and Italian Opens, finishing fourth at London 2012

Greatest Moment

Winning the 2011 Hungarian and Italian Opens


Melissa Tapper’s rapid rise in international table tennis suggests that she grew up with a table tennis paddle in her hand, but it wasn’t until she was eight years old that the Melbourne local first became hooked on the sport.

Born brachial plexus Erb’s palsy, which affects the nerves in her right arm, Melissa never saw herself as someone with a disability, and as a result, began her climb up the table tennis ranks in the able-bodied arena.

Growing up in the regional Victorian town of Hamilton, there were few female players to compete with and it wasn’t long before she was defeating able-bodied men in the area. Quickly making a name for herself, Melissa made her first state team at 12-years-old and her first Australian junior team at 14, carving out the foundations for a successful career in able-bodied table tennis. With her sights set on the Olympic Games, she decided to take table tennis seriously and knuckled down with her training.

By 18, Melissa became the number one junior female table tennis player in Australia; she was also the U18 Oceania champion and U21 Australian champion and was moving her way up the world rankings.

But Melissa’s world changed when the Australian Paralympic Committee suggested she try Paralympic table tennis. While reluctant at first, disregarding herself as an athlete with a disability, Melissa soon embraced the idea and began training for national selection on the Australian Para-table tennis squad with an eye on London 2012.

Underneath her humble, calm exterior Melissa is ruthless on the table tennis table and in 2011 alone, won a string of singles gold medals at the Hungarian, Italian and British Opens and the Arafura Games.  Having started 2011 ranked as 19 in the world, her rise to number one was meteoric. At her first Paralympic Games in London, Melissa became the best performing Australian in table tennis since 1984, finishing fourth after she lost the bronze medal match to China’s Lei Fan.

Following the Games, Melissa threw herself into intensive training overseas and most recently became the first Australian Paralympic table tennis athlete to qualify for an able-bodied national team. Competing at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, she won bronze in the women’s team event and made the second round in the mixed doubles.

After what has been an incredible Games cycle for Melissa, she is now focussed on helping Australia add to its Paralympic Games table tennis medal tally of seven. If she can do it, it will be the first Paralympic table tennis medal won by an Australian since the gold medal won by Terry Biggs at the 1984 Paralympic Games.

In 2016, Melissa also made history by becoming the first Australian Paralympian in her sport to qualify for an Australian Olympic Team.

Having studied Exercise Science, Melissa is passionate about keeping fit but also loves to indulge in the occasional piece of chocolate.





Sports & Disciplines

  • Sport: Table Tennis Disciplines: Singles Classification: 10
  • Sport: Table Tennis Disciplines: Teams Classification: 10