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Diving into shallow water
Date of Birth
Roxburgh Park, Victoria
AQA Victoria information and peer support coordinator
First Competed for Australia
Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012
Beating New Zealand 40-39 in the semi final at Sydney 2000, winning gold at London 2012
Playing in front of a home crowd at Sydney 2000
Nazim Erdem is the oldest and most experienced player on the Australian wheelchair rugby team. With three Paralympic Games and two silver medals behind him, Nazim was striving for London to win the long-awaited gold medal missing from his collection. At his fourth Paralympic Games, Naz finally won his gold medal, describing it as one of the greatest and most satisfying moments of his life.
Growing up, Nazim had a quirky habit of timing how long he could hold his breath. He became so good; he could hold it for up to three minutes. Then at 20, a lifetime of practice saved his life when he dived off a pier into shallow water and broke his neck. He couldn’t move his body, his mates thought he was mucking around and facing the prospect of drowning, he held his breath. It was two and a half minutes before he was pulled from the water.
Prior to his accident, Nazim was an amateur boxer and played local AFL football. In 1992, he started playing wheelchair rugby and in 1998 made his debut on the Australian team at the world championships.
Choosing wheelchair rugby for its ‘roughness,’ Nazim is an adrenaline junkie and loves adventure. On the rugby court, he has a 0.5 classification, which means he is a key defender on the team.
Away from the rugby court, Nazim became the first person with a spinal cord injury to complete the Targa Tasmania, a six day car race around Tasmania, in which he finished third in his group and in 2002 he became the first person with a spinal cord injury to paraglide solo. He even tried to jump his wheelchair up a gutter, similar to a skateboarder but instead fell out, which he believes is his most embarrassing moment to date.
Nazim also collects stamps, loves cars and admires Muhammad Ali for his determination to succeed despite the odds.
He has a diploma in computer programming and works as an information and peer support coordinator for a disability service and support organisation in Victoria.
Sport & Disciplines
Sport: Wheelchair Rugby