11 Sep 2016

Red with a white cross, whether on the shirt, hat or flag; the symbol was everywhere; on the late morning of Saturday 10th September at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, I wondered if I had been beamed away in a Star Trek Enterprise spaceship to Copenhagen.

Everywhere you looked there were massed ranks of Danes; they were there to support Sophie Walloe and there were rewarded for their efforts. The 16 year old booked her place in the semi-final stage of Women’s Singles Class 10.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Not only did she upset the pecking order she reduced the hopes of a nation to ashes; the aspirations of a continent had gone down under.


Lifted by the support, she recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Australia’s Melissa Tapper, the no.4 seed, to record a quite dramatic victory (5-11, 5-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-8).

Earlier in the proceedings, both players had experienced defeat at the hands of Poland’s Natalia Partyka, the defending champion. On the opening day of play Sophie Walloe had experienced defeat in three straight games (11-6, 11-4, 11-4); one day later the same fate had befallen Melissa Tapper (11-6, 11-3, 11-4).

Vital contest

Thus the contest between Melissa Tapper and Sophie Walloe was vital; for the winner it was progress, for the loser it was the end of adventures.

A great deal was expected of Melissa Tapper, having a month earlier created history for Oceania by also competing in the Olympic Games; alas for the Australian it was case of what might have been.

An opportunity

“Before the match I was nervous, I knew I had a chance but I had to be realistic; Melissa is a better player than me”, said a generous Sophie Walloe who this year has competed on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in the Czech Republic, Sweden and Poland.

“It was for me a big opportunity, if I was positive and lost I could have had no complaints; negative and I would have had cause for regret”, continued Sophie Walloe. “Mentally, I felt good but in the first two games it was so hard to find solutions; after losing the second game I made some tactical changes, for that and for my coach, Christoffer Petersen, I have to be eternally grateful.”

European Para Championships

Success for Sophie Walloe followed success at the 2015 European Para Championships on home soil in Vejle last October when she was beaten in the final by Natalia Partyka.

“Reaching the final in Vejle was a massive boost; there I learned how to play in front of a crowd, without that experience I would not have won against Melissa”, continued Sophie Walloe. “Today was just amazing; wherever I looked, on every side of the hall, there were Danish supporters, it was amazing.”

Corresponding group

A somewhat surprise second place for Sophie Walloe; in the corresponding group there was no surprise; China’s Yang Qian finished in first place ahead of the host nation’s Bruna Alexandre.

Paralympics Melissa Tapper Sophie Walloe