Paralympian Melissa Tapper qualifies for the Olympics

Melissa Tapper, Australian table tennis player
Tapper follows in the footsteps of Polish rival Natalya Partyka, who competed at both the London Olympics and the Paralympics

Table tennis player Melissa Tapper has become the first Australian Paralympian to qualify for the Olympic Games.

The 26-year-old secured her place through the Oceania qualifying tournament in Australia, beating Fiji's Grace Yee 11-2, 11-3, 11-4, 11-7.

"I can't believe I'm a part of Australian sporting history," she said.

Tapper was born with nerve damage to her right shoulder and arm and wears a brace on her arm to help stabilise her serve.

"I was ridiculously nervous before my matches today," she added. "I am so excited and stoked with this result, it has come from a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication and a lot of support.

"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, who has already qualified for the Rio Paralympics, missed out on a medal on her Paralympic debut in London, where she finished fourth.

However she won a team bronze while competing against able-bodied players at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

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