Milly Tapper talks about her arduous journey towards Tokyo
Milly Tapper once made history when she played in both the Rio Games and the Paralympics. She is set to do the same in Tokyo which might be an unequalled feat. Tapper is a special talent because even though she has a disability, she remains one of Australia’s best athletes.
Milly’s disability stems from her birth because the doctor pulled her out by her right arm which tore the nerves between her neck and shoulder. This led to an ailment called brachial plexus palsy which haunts her to this day.
She had a procedure early on in her life to improve her mobility which had surgeons taking nerves from her lower legs to attach them to the affected area. This was enough to help Milly’s mobility and use her hand enough to be able to get by.
The ailment had long-term effects but Milly never used it as an excuse in her life. She always did the chores, went to school, and she found a sport that she loved.
Challenges motivated her
When she first took up table tennis, most people did not see her doing well because she had trouble dealing with her injuries while playing the sport. However, Milly made sure to use those challenges as the motivation behind her working hard to play table tennis. She had fun trying which showed that she loved the sport and was the reason behind her focus on table tennis.
‘It was lunchtime sport on a Friday and I was terrible at it, I mean I couldn't even hit the ball’, Milly said. ‘As I've grown up, I've just understood that if I wanted to do something I had to go away and try a little bit harder or find, maybe, a solution to something’.
Ever since those early hardships, Tapper made sure to become the best version of herself in table tennis. She became one of the best players in the country and she was called up not only by the Paralympics team but the national side too.
Milly is well-regarded
Head coach John Murphy believes Milly is the heart of the Aussie team. That is a big praise coming from the team’s head coach who has led so many players over the years.
‘Her dedication is huge. If you see what Milly is putting in on a daily, weekly, monthly basis’, Murphy said. ‘Whether it's the on-table stuff, the physical program she has from the VIS or the extra stuff she does at home — it's a well-oiled machine and that facilitates her to do what she's doing again to qualify for two Games’.
It should not be a surprise if Milly performs well at the Games because she’s worked hard to get where she is and she has the elite skills to win a medal.
Words: Cholo Martin