Quick Facts

Physical Impairment – Quadriplegia
Wheelchair Rugby
How acquired
Diving into shallow water
Date of Birth
August 1, 1970
Roxburgh Park, VIC
Manager at AQA Victoria
Started Competing
First Competed for Australia
Games Experience

Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012


Muhammad Al

Career Highlights

Beating New Zealand 40-39 in the semi final at Sydney 2000, winning gold at London 2012

Greatest Moment

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 and this year celebrates his 15th year as a Paralympian.

With three Paralympic Games and two silver medals behind him, Nazim’s one goal was to bring home from London the long-awaited gold medal missing from his collection. At his fourth Paralympic Games, he 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 that he could hold it for up to three minutes. Then at 20-years-old, a lifetime of practise saved his life when he dived off a pier into shallow water and broke his neck. He couldn’t move his body, and facing the prospect of drowning, he was able to hold his breath. It was two and a half minutes before he was pulled from the water by his mates who initially thought he was mucking around.

An amateur boxer and a local AFL player before his accident, Nazim found a new sporting outlet in 1992, when he began playing wheelchair rugby after being introduced to the sport in rehab. In 1990, he made his debut on the Australian team at the World Championships in New Zealand.

An adrenaline junkie and daredevil by nature, Nazim became the first person with a spinal cord injury to complete the Targa Tasmania, a six day car race around the state, in which he finished third in his group.

Another accomplishment came in 2002 when he became the first person with a spinal cord injury to paraglide solo. He even tried to jump his wheelchair up a gutter like a skateboarder but instead fell out, which he believes is his most embarrassing moment to date.

Nazim admires Muhammad Ali for his determination to succeed despite the odds, and just like Ali, hopes to be as successful as he possibly can be and to motivate others.

In ten years time he hopes to still be involved in wheelchair rugby in some capacity and hopes to continue encouraging others with similar injuries to pursue their dreams.
Nazim has a diploma in computer programming and works as a manager at a disability service and support organisation in Victoria.

Sports & Disciplines

  • Sport: Wheelchair Rugby Classification: 0.5