by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Present in 2016 at both the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games, Melissa Tapper was a street ahead of the field, a competition where the difference in the level of disability was vast.
Nevertheless, even though she did not cause any upsets, a Commonwealth Games medal is precious reward for hours of training; the look on her face when standing on the top step of the podium reflected that fact, the look was one of pride.
“All my family came to watch, Paralympic table tennis has created many openings for me. It’s been so good to play in front of a home crowd. In the Women’s Team event we just missed out on a medal so to win today was special.” Melissa Tapper
Success for Melissa Tapper, in the immediate preceding bronze medal match it had also been success for Australia. Andrea McDonnell beat England’s Felicity Pickard in three straight games (11-2, 11-6, 11-7).
Bronze for Andrea McDonnell but the Queen should give Felicity Pickard platinum; simply for having the sheer guts to go out there centre stage, in the spotlight, competing against a player from the host nation in a packed Oxenford Auditorium.
The difference in disability was far too great, Felicity Pickard is Class 6, Andrea McDonnell is Class 10; for the English player from Burnley in the north west of the country, who has to use a walking stick in order to stand, it was an impossible task.
Fourth place, just one step short of a medal, it is the worst place to finish, yet Felicity Pickard was the most positive person in the auditorium
“You go out there and get on with the job and do your best; it’s been really good that Para Table Tennis has been part of the Commonwealth Games. It’s good for people too se Para play. We are disabled but we train just as hard as able bodied players, it’s no different. Here in Australia as part of Team England it has been fantastic; I’ve enjoyed every minute.” Felicity Pickard
Defeat for Felicity Pickard but for me, I accept I am also from England and I may be biased but she was the bravest player in Gold Coast.