Nazim Erdem

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Nazim Erdem
190411 - Nazim Erdem - 3b - 2012 Team processing.jpg
2012 Australian Paralympic Team portrait of Erdem
Personal information
Nationality  Australia
Born (1970-08-01) 1 August 1970 (age 48)
Kayseri, Turkey
Residence Roxburgh Park, Melbourne
Disability class 0.5

Nazim Erdem, OAM (born 1 August 1970) is an Australian wheelchair rugby Paralympic gold and silver medalist. He has won two gold and two silver medals at five Paralympics from 2000 to 2016.


Nazim Erdem was born on 1 August 1970[1] in the Turkish city of Kayseri and later immigrated to Australia with his family.[2] He became a quadriplegic at the age of 20 after diving off a pier into shallow water[1] in an effort to impress some watching girls.[3] As a youngster, he practiced holding his breath and could hold it for up to three minutes.[3] His ability to hold his breath for a long period of time saved his life as he was under water for two-and-a-half minutes before he was rescued.[3] He played Australian rules football and was an amateur boxer before the accident.[1]

In 2002 he became the first person with a spinal cord injury to paraglide solo; he was also the first person with a spinal cord injury to compete in the Targa Tasmania car rally.[1] He lives in the Melbourne suburb of Roxburgh Park, has a diploma in computer programming, and works as a peer support coordinator for the Australian Quadriplegic Association, a Victorian disability support organisation.[1][4]Erdem is also a sports ambassador for the TAFISA World Sport for All Games.[5]

Wheelchair rugby[edit]

Erdem at the 2012 London Paralympics

Classified as a 0.5 point player,[3] Erdem began playing wheelchair rugby in 1992. He first played for the Victorian wheelchair rugby team in 1994, and first played for the national team, the Australian Steelers, in the 1998 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships.[1][6]

He was part of the national team at the 2000 Sydney, 2004 Athens 2008 Beijing, and 2012 London Paralympics, winning a silver medal with them at the 2000 and 2008 games and a gold medal in 2012.[7][8] At the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships, he was a member of Steelers teams that won bronze in 2002, silver in 2010 and gold in 2014.[9] He was a member of the team that retained its gold medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympics after defeating the United States 59–58 in the final.[10]

Erdem announced his retirement in December 2017 after playing 312 games over two decades for the Steelers. He indicated that he would spend more time with his family and his growing role at the Australian Quadriplegic Association. [11]


In June 2012, Erdem was named the Hume Leader's senior sports star of the week.[4] He was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in the 2014 Australia Day Honours "for service to sport as a Gold Medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games."[12][13] In October 2014, he and Lydia Lassila were joint winners of the Victorian Institute of Sport Gatorade Spirit Award.[14] In 2016, Erdem was named the Hume Leader Senior Sports Star of the year.[5] In 2018, he became the first Australian to be inducted into the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) Hall of Fame.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Nazim Erdem". Australian Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  2. ^ "Athlete's Profile". Australian Paralympic Committee. Archived from the original on 4 December 2000. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Swanton, Will (13 September 2008). "Breathing life into a reshaped world". The Age. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Jolly, Laura (2 June 2012). "Roxburgh Park man hopes to turn Paralympic silvers into gold". Hume Leader. Archived from the original on 20 November 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Leader, Hume (24 November 2016). "Wheelchair rugby legend and tennis youngster win Hume sports star awards". Leader Community News. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 
  6. ^ "Tough on the court". The Hume Leader. 14 October 2009. p. 16. 
  7. ^ "Athlete Search Results". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Mixed Wheelchair Rugby – Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby". Official site of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Australia wins first ever IWRF World Championship". Australian Paralympic Committee News. 11 August 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  10. ^ Lees, Chris (19 September 2016). "Steelers double up with Paralympics gold". Sunshine Coast Daily. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  11. ^ Domingo, Patrisha (8 December 2017). "Erdem enters retirement after a history-making career". Australian Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  12. ^ "Australia Day honours list 2014: in full". Daily Telegraph. 26 January 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  13. ^ "Wheelchair rugby player and Paralympian Nazim Erdem receives OAM for service to sport". Herald Sun. January 26, 2014. 
  14. ^ "David Morris wins VIS Award of Excellence 2014". Victorian Institute of Sport. 28 October 2014. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  15. ^ "Wheelchair rugby icon honoured with IWRF Hall of Fame induction". Australian Paralympic Committee website. 14 August 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 

External links[edit]