Quick Facts

How acquired
Birth
Disability
Physical Impairment – Erb’s palsy
Sport
Table Tennis
Date of Birth
March 1, 1990
Home
South Melbourne, VIC
Started Competing
2002
Games Experience

London 2012, Rio 2016

Heroes

Her dad

Career Highlights

Placing fourth at the London 2012 Paralympic Games

Greatest Moment

Winning the 2011 Hungarian and Italian Opens

Bio

 

Although Melissa ‘Milly’ Tapper has had Erb’s palsy since birth, she has spent most of her life competing against able-bodied athletes, male and female both.

Having begun playing table tennis at eight, Milly was first selected to represent her country as a junior in the early 2000s. By 18 she was the number one junior female table tennis player in Australia and the U18 Oceania champion, well-primed for a successful career in able-bodied sport.

However, Milly’s world changed when the APC suggested she transition to Para-table tennis. Although reluctant at first, she soon began training for national selection with an eye to London 2012, her rise to number one meteoric.

Underneath her humble, calm exterior, Milly is a ruthless competitor. In 2011 alone, she won singles gold at the Hungarian, Italian and British Opens, and the Arafura Games.

Making her Paralympic debut at the London Games, Milly was crowned the best performing Australian table tennis player since Terry Biggs in 1984, losing the bronze medal match to China’s Lei Fan to finish fourth.

Following the Games and intensive training overseas, Milly became the first Australian Paralympic table tennis athlete to qualify for an able-bodied national team when she was selected to represent Australia at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. There she won bronze in the women’s team event and reached the second round of the mixed doubles.

In 2016 Milly again made history when she became the first Australian to qualify for an Olympic and Paralympic Games in the same year. In her Olympic debut she placed equal 65th of 65 in the singles and equal ninth of nine in the team event with teammates Lay Jian Fang and Sally Zhang, a momentous effort considering.

Milly recovered well to reach the bronze medal match of the Paralympic Games team event with teammate Andrea McDonnell. Up against crowd favourites Brazil, they lost 0-2 to place fourth overall.

The South Melbourne local completed a Bachelor of Exercise Science at Australian Catholic University in 2008.

Sports & Disciplines

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