Melissa Tapper delighted a massive home crowd to secure table tennis gold in the women’s singles TT6-10 at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on Saturday (14 April).
The Australian defeated Nigeria’s Faith Obazuaye 3-1 (7-11, 11-2, 11-6, 11-3) to capture her first Commonwealth Games title.
It was the first meeting between the two athletes and Obazuaye was able to apply plenty of pressure at the beginning, before the class of Tapper shone through.
Players exchanged points early, with the scores locked at 6-6, before Obazuaye produced a blitz to take the opening game 11-7.
Tapper raced out to a 7-0 lead in the second game, before going on to level the match at 1-1 with an 11-2 score line.
The Australian started strong in game three, taking a 4-2 lead, but Obazuaye clawed her way back to 6-6.
However, Tapper reeled off the next five points to move a game away from gold.
She continued the momentum swing with five of the first six points in game four.
Obazuaye called a timeout, but it didn’t stop the Tapper charge as she closed out the game 11-3 to secure the Commonwealth title.
Tapper had a very busy programme at the Games, placing ninth in the women’s singles, fifth in women’s doubles and ninth in mixed doubles, while Australia finished fourth in the teams event.
Andrea McDonald ensured two Australians featured on the podium with a strong performance in the bronze medal match against England’s Felicity Pickard.
McDonald, a class 10 athlete, was able to control the match against the class six Pickard to win the contest in three straight games (11-2, 11-6, 11-3). The match lasted just 17 minutes.
Tapper progressed to the deciding match by defeating McDonnell 3-1 (6-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-1) in the semi-finals on Friday (13 April). Obazuaye won in three straight games against Pickard (11-6, 11-7, 11-8).
Ross Wilson takes gold among men
Meanwhile, Englishman Ross Wilson outclassed teammate Kim Daybell in the gold medal match of the men’s singles TT6-10.
Wilson’s 3-1 (7-11, 12-10, 11-3, 11-7) victory demanded his best as Daybell seized an early advantage.
The turning point in the match was Wilson’s 12-10 salute in the second game, before he stepped up the intensity to secure gold, his first medal at the Commonwealth Games.
South Africa’s Theo Cogill and Wales’ Joshua Stacey battled for bronze and it was Stacey that prevailed 3-2 (8-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-13, 11-8) in thrilling fashion.
The 18-year-old Welshman will use the triumph as a stepping stone towards qualifying for Tokyo 2020.
Daybell was pushed all the way in Friday’s (13 April) semi-finals, edging out Cogill 3-2 (11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-6).
Wilson was also made to work hard in his 3-1 (10-12, 11-2, 14-12, 11-9) semi-final victory against Stacey.