A younger Milly was already a top able bodied player when her world was turned upside down when Paralympics Australia suggested she focus her attention to Para-Table Tennis! Her rise was remarkable as Milly went on to reach the Bronze medal match at the 2012 London Paralympics which at the time was the best performance by any Australian Para-Table Tennis player in 28 years!
Milly also has the accolade of competing at a Paralympic and Olympic Games in the same year! She is without a doubt a true inspiration!
1. You must be very proud to be the first Australian athlete to qualify for both the Summer Olympics and Paralympics, who inspired you to play Table Tennis?
I began playing for fun at primary school as I played all the other sports. None of my friends or family played Table Tennis but I really enjoyed it. I would have to say my sports teacher was a big influence in supporting and encouraging me to play and was also a big part towards my love for sport in general.
2. You are a true inspiration to all athletes, what tips can you give to any upcoming disabled athletes/Table Tennis players?
That’s a nice added bonus to hear that I am an inspiration for doing something I love. I think my biggest tip is to have a go a everything and find something you really enjoy doing, because with that you are willing to spend more time on it and improve little by little and the sense of reward when you see improvement is addictive. Watch as many table tennis videos as you can because you can learn so much from watching others and find the game you want to have yourself.
3. Can you tell us how you felt when you became the first Australian to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal in Table Tennis, in Gold Coast, Queensland!!!!
No words!!!! It was the most special moment for me, having my entire family in the stands and having my nephews and nieces see me win the final was just the best, after the final point was finished it was such a surreal moment because I have played the sport for so long and had many big dreams! I have come close and obviously achieved some great things already, but this was really just so special being on home soil as well.
4. What brings you the most joy in your profession in Table Tennis?
Table tennis is the best sport because it’s so much fun, it’s so hard, involves a variety of different skills and all that put together continuously gives us more to challenge ourselves. I think that is where I get the most enjoyment, the challenge of improvement and trying to get the most out of myself.
5. You come across as a very positive person, can you give our readers some insight to your mental approach in Table Tennis
I have been very fortunate to have incredible people around me who live positive lives and help me to do that as best as I can. The biggest influencer in this area definitely is my husband Simon, he has helped me to always focus on the aspects I can control through training, competition and life. He is also the person that has been there to help me believe in myself when I didn’t.
6. Most Aussies are massive sports fans, do you play other sports, and what other sports do you watch?
My time is mostly taken up by playing table tennis, however, when I was younger, I competed a lot in tennis, athletics, netball and basketball. I also enjoy watching Tennis and Aussies rules.
7. If you could choose one player to watch, who would it be and why?
I enjoy watching Eliza Samara play, she’s also left handed and is a great player to watch.
8. What are your favourite 2 drills?
My favourite two drills are; three point forehand, it works the legs hard and is a great stamina exercise. Secondly, whole table anywhere where the blocker plays around with the timing of the ball, I find this gets my legs activated and makes you really watch the ball as the length and speed is changing all the time.
9. Can you give us 2 physical exercises that help you to improve your Table Tennis?
Number one is holding in a plank position, bring one knee up to the chest and then rotating the knee to the opposite side, it’s a great exercise for core strength and stability through motion as our core plays a large role in table tennis. Number two is holding onto a medicine ball, sharp fast knee runs then explosive push to one side, stabilising and twisting with the medicine ball, this exercise gives strength, stability and helps coordination.
10. Finally, in these crazy times, how are you keeping in shape at the moment?
During this period of isolation I have found it so beneficial to have a routine, therefore my alarm is still set early. I get a gym session done in the morning and a table session in the afternoon. I am very lucky that my household is full of table tennis players 🙂 so I am never short a training partner. Around that, I am enjoying reading, Pilates, walking the dog and cleaning the house!
It’s been a pleasure to interview Melissa and we would like to thank her for her time and inspirational answers! Check out our video below and follow Melissa on Instagram.