Victorian Institute of Sport

Tapper delights home crowd

Monday, 06 August 2018

Melissa Tapper delighted a massive home crowd to secure table tennis gold in the women’s singles TT6-10 at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

The VIS scholarship holder said adding Commonwealth Games gold medallist to her burgeoning resume might not sink in until she’s “a grandma, rocking on a chair in my house one day with my grandkids.”

The 28-year-old defeated Faith Obazuaye from Nigeria 7-11 11-2 11-6 11-3 at Oxenford Studios in the final of the para TT6-10 singles, for standing athletes with varying limb impairments.

The Nigerian’s aggressive start to the match quickly crumbled as she repeatedly overshot the table following troubles with the net and was unable to break Tapper’s dominance in the final three games.

The medal marked Australia’s first table tennis gold since the sport joined the Games in 2002.

Fighting back tears of joy after her victory, Tapper said that her win wasn’t about creating history but about achieving for herself and her family.

“I hope my medal can inspire others, but that’s not my aim when I compete. Today I competed for myself and my family. I don’t ever think about how my actions could be inspiring for someone else, but it has been incredible this week - I’ve had a lot of people coming specifically to see my matches.”

The excitement and adrenaline of winning in front of a home crowd may just spur her to another Olympic-Paralympic double in Tokyo in 2020, and perhaps to win a medal.

“Tokyo is still a while off, I am just stoked to get through these last 10 days. This (the Gold Coast Games) is almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; this environment, the thrill and adrenaline I get here spurs me on to try and keep achieving a bit more,” said Tapper.

Milly, originally from Hamilton in country Victoria, suffered a brachial plexus injury at birth which resulted in Erb’s Palsy, a paralysis of the arm caused by injury to the upper group of the arm’s main nerves.

She was the first Australian to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio 2016 and as such, is no stranger to very full Games programs.

In addition to her TT6-10 singles gold at Gold Coast 2018, she placed ninth in the women’s singles, fifth in women’s doubles and ninth in mixed doubles, while she finished fourth in the teams event.

Milly briefly spoke to the VIS Marketing team:

VIS: How does it feel to be a Commonwealth Games GOLD medallist?

MT: Amazing, and a massive sense of relief. It only took 20 years, but we got there!

VIS: You won Australia’s first ever table tennis Commonwealth gold – do you consider yourself a trailblazer?

MT: I don’t consider myself a trailblazer, but I am pretty excited about the little piece of history made and I find it fun and challenging to try to do things that haven’t been done before.

VIS: What was it like competing at a home Games in front of your friends and family?

MT: It was the most intense sense of pride I have ever experienced. My eyes would well up, my heart would skip a beat and I would smile from ear to ear knowing that I had my family, especially my nephews and niece in the stands and a part of the Games’ experience. It just made me really happy!

VIS: What was your best moment from the Games?

MT: Fighting hard with my team in a packed stadium for the bronze medal in the team event was incredible! We fell short in the end but I was just honoured to play in that match against such high level competitors and perform well in front of the crowd with an awesome atmosphere. Looking back, I think it was a great day for Australian table tennis.

VIS: Who gave you the most support leading into the Games and how?

MT: I received a lot from everywhere. The VIS is across my entire program and is a massive part of my success of the past four years - without them, things would have been incredibly difficult. But outside of my training environment my family are No.1, with the most valuable player going to my brother! I just love having him at my competitions and it makes my heart smile seeing him get so passionate when I compete.

VIS: Tell us about village life?

MT: It’s like being in a bubble where everything is free and easy. Getting to socialise and catch up with fellow Aussies in the street and international friends, coffee dates, dining room discussions and a cheeky ice cream run were just a small part of each day.

VIS: What’s next on the horizon for Milly Tapper?

MT: A break! It has been a very hectic, non-stop 6 months, so looking forward to a bit of down time for myself, lighten up on training a bit and spend some more time back at my parents in Hamilton before gearing up and preparing for the World Para Championships in Europe in October.

More articles from Pinnacle Magazine can be found here



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