21 Feb 2019

Competing on home soil, a member of the Australian national team at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in April; most significantly gold medallist in women’s singles class 6-10 Para event, on Wednesday 20th February, Melissa Tapper received the Governor's Award Victorian Female Athlete of the Year – the Kitty McEwan Award.

The presentation was made if front of some 500 people in the Marvel Stadium in Melbourne and was one of 20 awards gifted on the evening.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Success in the Gold Coast, immediately following it was a flight to Halmstad to compete in the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships for the player who just under two years earlier had represented Australia at both the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and then the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games; the task now is to do the same again next year in Tokyo.

Born in Hamilton in the state of Victoria, an outgoing personality, always a bright smile and a cheerful demeanour, internationally we first set our eyes on Melissa Tapper as a 14 year old, at the 2004 World Junior Championships staged in the Japanese city of Kobe.

She attracted attention on two fronts; her right arm suffered from Erb’s palsy and thus it was realized that in Para sport competing in class 10, in the years to come she could do rather well. She did! In addition to her appearances at the London and Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games, in 2013 and 2015, she emerged the gold medallist in women’s singles class 6-10 at the Oceania Para Championships.

The second reason in Kobe was that from quarters it was rumoured that her name may have been spelt incorrectly; surely it should be Tepper and must be a relation of Glenn Tepper, the ITTF Director of Development in those days who was present at the Championships. Glenn addressed the matter with due humility.

“Thank you Governor Linda Dessau and the Vicsport Team for this incredible honour of being named Victorian Female Athlete of the Year. Can’t quite fathom just yet being named alongside the likes of Cathy Freeman, Kim Brennan and Kirstie Marshall for this award. Table tennis continues to give me amazing opportunities, and it only seems to get better. Thanks to my legendary team and supporters.” Melissa Tapper (Facebook Page)

Each year the Victorian Sport Awards honours those who have made an outstanding contribution to sport in Victoria as individual or team athletes, coaches, administrators and volunteers.

Paralympics Para Table Tennis Melissa Tapper