Tapper Becomes First Australian Paralympian to Qualify for the Olympic Games
Melissa TAPPER has entered Australian sporting folk law by becoming the first Australian athlete to qualify for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
TAPPER, a class 10 Paralympian was born with nerve damage in her right arm, secured her Olympic berth by defeating Grace YEE from Fiji at today's ITTF-Oceania Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Bendigo, Australia.
Holding back the tears of joy, the 26-year-old, who has already qualified for the Paralympics in Rio stated: "I was ridiculously nervous before my matches today. I am so excited and stoked with this result, it is come from a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication and a lot of support. I can't believe I am a part of Australian sporting history. Rio is going to be an experience of a lifetime. I want to do the best I can in the Olympics and win gold in the Paralympics."
TAPPER will be joined in Rio by Jian Fang LAY, who also created history by qualifying for her fifth Olympic Games, 16 years after her first games at Sydney 2000.
Due to Australia qualifying two women, it means they also get to compete in the team event in Rio. Their third team member will be Sally ZHANG, who finished the next highest in the trials.
The pair of Australians will be joined by 14 year old Sally YEE from Fiji, who had to defeat her sister Grace to qualify for Rio 2016.
Australian's David POWELL and Chris YAN secured their ticket to their first Olympic Games by topping the men's qualification here in Bendigo. They will be joined by Tengteng Liu from New Zealand and Hemming HU, who will be the third player in Australia's team for the team event.
POWELL, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for London 2012 stated: "There was a part of me that didn't want to try and qualify for Rio, because it was such a deflating experience before London and I really didn't want to go through it again,"Powell said.
"But after qualifying for Glasgow in 2014 I knew I had it in me. I felt a lot of pressure today, but when I went 4-0 down in the final set I just relaxed, and everything worked out for me"