TABLE tennis star Melissa Tapper is the toast of the south-west after claiming a bronze medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
The 24-year-old Hamilton export was part of the Australian women’s team that defeated India 3-1 at the Scotstoun Sports Campus on Sunday evening Australian time.
While Tapper didn’t play in the bronze-winning match, she was still awarded a medal after her strong performances in the pool matches and the quarter-finals that helped the team qualify for the bronze medal play-off.
Australia defeated Guyana and Scotland 3-0 in the pool matches and Wales 3-0 in the quarter-final. Australia lost the semi-final to eventual silver medallist Malaysia 3-1.
Hamilton Table Tennis Association president Annette Moore has known Tapper since her early days in the sport and said she never had any doubt Tapper would succeed on the world stage.
Moore said she had been scouring social media on Sunday night to find results after internet streaming wasn’t working.
“She’s worked hard and has been so determined. It’s so exciting. We are all thrilled for her,” Moore said.
“When Melissa was 13 or 14 she was beating the men who were playing A grade, so there was never any doubt she would succeed.
“She’s worked so hard and is one of those people who doesn’t let anything get to her, and if it is she doesn’t show it. She doesn’t give anything away.”
Tapper re-wrote history when she stepped up for her first event last week, becoming the first Paralympian to represent Australia on an able-bodied Commonwealth Games team.
“That had been her beacon, playing on the able-bodied team,” Moore said. “That was her goal and she never gave up on it. She’s worked so hard to get there. Her whole journey has been exciting and we are all so happy for her. She more than deserves it.”
Tapper will play again on Wednesday night (AEST) when the mixed doubles competition gets under way.