By David Gold

Rebecca McDonnell_23-04-12April 23 - Table tennis stars Melissa Tapper and Rebecca McDonnell have been selected to take part in this summer's Paralympics by the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC).

McDonnell (pictured) is going to her second Games, after suffering a preliminary round defeat in Beijing four years' ago, and was the first Australian to compete at the Para World Table Tennis Championships.

The 25-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, lists qualifying for that tournament and winning the United States Open in 2007 as the best moments of her career.

She is ranked ninth in her class and after her selection set her sights on a medal at London 2012.

"It means everything to me to get to my second Paralympics," she said.

"I've worked very hard and sacrificed a lot to make it.

"I'd love to medal at a Paralympic Games in my class singles.

"It's very competitive but I've played all my opposition before so I know what to expect and am ready for the challenge."

London will be Tapper's first Paralympics, and will cap a remarkable rise for a player ranked just 19th in the world at the start of last year.

She finished the year as the world number one following a superb year, and though she is now fifth Tapper will go to London with realistic hopes of picking up a medal.

Melissa Tapper_23-04-12
"This is something you always dream of when you start playing any sport," Tapper (pictured) said.

"To be able to achieve it is amazing and now I hope to bring home a medal.

"All I can do is put in my best performance.

"I know I've been working hard to give myself the best possible chance for a medal."

The table tennis squad, along with the powerlifters and sailors, were the first selected by the APC for London 2012, and the announcement means that Sarah Lazzaro misses out on returning to the Paralympics after she competed at Beijing 2008.

Australia has a record of seven medals in table tennis since the first international Paralympic Games at Rome in 1960, including two golds won by Terry Biggs and Marion O'Brien.

No men have been selected by Australia for the Paralympic table tennis tournament since they hosted the Games in Sydney 12 years' ago.

"I would like to congratulate both Melissa and Rebecca on making the 2012 Australian Paralympic Team," said APC chief executive and London 2012 team Chef de Mission Jason Hellwig.

"Australia has not won a medal in Paralympic table tennis since 1984 and the APC has worked closely with Table Tennis Australia to build a strong programme for future Games.

"Melissa and Rebecca are both outstanding athletes and ambassadors for table tennis.

"They are both at the top of their games internationally and I know they will do Australia proud in London."

Their main rivals this summer will be their Chinese opponents, who dominated at home in Beijing and won 22 medals, including 13 gold.

There will be 29 medal events at the table tennis tournament during London 2012, which runs from August 30 to September 8 at the ExCeL Centre.

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