Although Melissa Tapper lost to Brazil's Caroline Kumahara in the preliminary round of women's single's table tennis in Rio on Aug. 6, she knew her Olympic journey was just beginning.
"This is quite a sweet moment actually," Tapper told the Sydney Morning Herald. "When I turn up for the Paralympics, I'm going to fight just as hard as I did in that last match."
Starting Sept. 8, fans can witness Tapper make history when she becomes the only Australian athlete ever to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games.
"To know I'm competing at the top level of my sport in both Games is really exciting," Tapper, 26, tells WHO. "I set goals and I achieved them."
For Tapper, raised in Hamilton, Victoria, complications during her birth led to lasting nerve damage in the form of Erb's palsy, a paralysis of her right arm. "I have movement in that arm," she explains, "but not anywhere near my left."
The condition didn't make Tapper any less active. Growing up, she played "everything," she says, including basketball and netball. By 8, she fell in love with table tennis and in 2011 attained a world No. 1 ranking as a para player. In 2014, in able-bodied play, she led Australia to a team bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Now she's ready to reach the pinnacle of her sport. "I would love to gold at the Paralympics," Tapper says. "Gold is what I want to achieve. If you aim for the top, you're in a better position from the start."
To read more about Tapper and her relationship with husband and coach Simon Gerada, pick up a copy of WHO on newsstands this week.
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