HAMILTON table tennis player Melissa Tapper has fallen short of an individual medal at the London Paralympic Games.
Tapper, 22, finished fourth in the women’s class 10 section, losing the bronze medal match to China’s Lei Fan 3-2 yesterday morning.
Speaking to The Standard from London, Tapper said the result left her with “a mixed bag of emotions”.
“I got so close and that is what I wanted to do,” she said.
“I showed more fight against this girl than in the group stages. I was 2-0 up.”
Tapper said she was proud of her efforts in her first Paralympic Games.
“I prepared the best I could leading into it,” she said.
“I knew everyone and knew every match would be tough. The girl I played off with for bronze, I had never beaten her.”
Poland’s Natalia Partyka won gold in the women’s class 10 singles from China’s Qian Yang.
Tapper recorded two wins and a loss in the preliminary rounds.
She defeated France’s Audrey le Morvan 3-0, lost to Fan 3-0 and edged out Brazil’s Bruna Alexandre 3-2.
In the semi-final, Tapper was outclassed by Partyka, 3-0.
However, Tapper has a chance to gain more top-level experience when she competes with Rebecca McDonnell in the team event. She said it would be tough to medal.
“It’s a big ask,” she said.
“We are going to get out there and fight hard.”
Tapper said the Paralympic Games had surpassed her expectations and, with her singles competition now complete, she had time to appreciate it.
“I am starting to enjoy the whole atmosphere and everything I have achieved so far,” she said. “It is amazing. I am very proud to be part of the Australian team.
“The Australian team has been unbelievable and the support back home has been amazing. I can’t begin to thank everyone.”
Tapper, who missed the opening ceremony but will be part of the closing ceremony, said she was interested in the wheelchair rugby.
Camperdown’s Josh Hose is in the Australian team.
Paralympic table tennis features 11 classes, depending on the level of disability.
Classes one to five are for athletes who compete in wheelchairs and classes six to 10 are for athletes who compete standing, while class 11 is for athletes with an intellectual disability.
Tapper has brachial plexus nerve damage in her right arm and is in class 10.